NJ Transit Reminder: Do Not Cross Tracks When Lights Are Flashing

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You’re driving in town and come to a train crossing. The trains passes, the gates go up, but the red lights are still flashing. You may think it’s fine to cross. There are probably some cars behind you beeping you to go through, but unless the gates are up AND there are no flashing lights, it’s not safe to cross.

A resident recently shared a story on the Montclair Watercooler about a frightening experience at North Fullerton train crossing where gates came down and then went up moments later. Just as the driver began crossing, the gates came down again. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of issues at this crossing.

Baristanet reached out to NJ Transit to report the incident and to see if others have been doing the same.

Lisa Torbic of NJ Transit tells Baristanet there have been three recent customer concerns reported regarding the gates at the North Fullerton train crossing.

“The North Fullerton Avenue grade crossing is compliant with federal regulations, as are all NJ TRANSIT crossings, and is working as intended. Grade crossings are tested at least once a month. And while we have no reports of gates not working as intended, we will send a crew to inspect them when people report concerns,” assures Torbic.

She explained that because this gate crossing is in close proximity to two stations, the movement of the grade crossing gates may seem quick based upon the frequency of the trains in that area.  “The movement of other rail equipment (not necessarily a regular train) and workers in the area can trigger the activation of the safety signal system. The system crossing mechanism is designed this way to ensure safety as equipment movement and rail personnel could be out of the line-of-sight for drivers.”

Torbic warns that if the red lights at a grade crossing are flashing and the gates are up, motorists should not cross the tracks as the lights are the true indicators as to when vehicles can cross the tracks.

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. This recently happened to me! The gates were down when we arrived, after about a minute or so went back up. The lights stopped flashing and seemed clear to start going through. As we started to cross through, the gates started coming down again. There was no way we were going to make it across so we had to reverse the car but not before the gate began to hit the roof of my car. One of the scariest things I have expierenced. I try to avoid North Fullerton crossing or hold my breath each time I pass.

  2. I’ve had two similar instances at this crossing that were scary. The first was like eller’s account above. Waiting with the gates down, gates go up, I go, gates start to go back down, but in my case I didn’t back up, but hit the gas and made it through. I don’t recall exactly what the lights were doing but the gates had gone up. The second time the gates had just gone up when we were approaching and we continued through, only to see a train on our left coming at speed from Watchung station toward the crossing. The gates and lights did not go own as we exited the crossing and looking back in my rear view I did not see the lights on or the gates going down.

  3. Both of you obviously don’t ride NJ Transit. If you did, you would know not to trust anything they-or their equipment-does. The absolutely funniest thing in the world is when NJT blames Amtrak and vice versa. They are two of the most completely incompetent organizations in modern history. They actually make DeCamp look like they have it all together.

    As long as you know this, the gates are not such a big deal.

  4. After having gone though this crossing a few more times it seems the situation occurs when NYC bound trains arrive at Watchung station.

    Sensors detect the train moving toward the station and the crossing and close the gates at North Fullerton. As the gates at N. Fullerton come down, the train slows to stop at Watchung station. As the trains sits at the station, the sensor right after the station doesn’t detect the expected train, and after a certain period it resets and raises the gates. But the train has started pulling out right as the gates open, and there is slight delay as the sensor is tripped and gates go down again. At that point the train has already cut the distance to the crossing and those who have advanced into the crossing see a train coming and the gates coming down again.

    This needs to be fixed. It’s all fine to try and tell people they should wait until all the lights have stopped and the gates are all the way up, but human nature says “Go” when the gate goes up.

  5. This isn’t rocket science. For those that find it challenging here is a simple algorithm that should keep you safe. Stop at tracks whether gates are up or down, if down, wait until raised then check both directions before proceeding to cross, if raised check both directions before proceeding to cross.

  6. Human nature is about as far from rocket science as you get. That’s why most safety rules assume the dumbest common denominator. The gate is there to present an obstacle, and when the obstacle is removed we proceed. That’s how gates work. The human brain says “go” when the gates go up. How about we leave the gate down until the point that it’s all clear to go?

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