The horn silencing effect of the quiet zone may or may not have played a role in the Texas crash, but the effect matters. And if the effect is found to have played a role this crash, it may be cited as part of the cause, regardless of the fact that the driver violated one or more laws. But many seem to insist that the quiet zone effect does not matter, whether it played a role in this crash or not. They say that the quiet zone effect is beside the point because crashes are always caused by drivers breaking the law. And the law violation is all that matters.
Furthermore, many would have us believe that quiet zones are just as safe as non-quiet zones. That is what I previously believed to be the case. I cannot believe they would allow quiet zones unless they were just as safe as non-quiet zones.
So it really surprises me to read this on the linked reference dated 5/18/12:
Quote from the link regarding waiting for U.P. to approve quiet zones for South Austin, TX:
It is a waiting game for the city. Since Union Pacific owns the tracks, the railroad giant sets the schedule -- one where caution is a priority.
The railroad’s website says: "Union Pacific believes quiet zones compromise the safety of railroad employees, customers, and the general public."
But Schatz said the absence of the loud warning of an approaching freight train compromises safety.
"It's known that, if the train does not sound its horn at the crossing, the chance of a crash occurring increases 68 percent,” he said.
I wonder if U.P.’s viewpoint on this is shared by other authorities involved in setting up quiet zones, and by cities asking for quiet zones. With all the worry about railroad safety, how can they countenance quiet zones if they increase the hazard by 68 percent?
Is the railroad relieved of crossing liability as part of the deal to put in a quiet zone? If so, who assumes that liability?