ATKINS, Ark. (KTHV) -- There are more than 3,000 railroad crossings in the state but only 30 percent of them are marked with flashing lights or barricades.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department says there are a number of factors that determine where and when to place active warning signals at railroad crossings such as how many vehicles use the crossing, how often trains pass through the area and how many accidents have occurred there. But after two fatal accidents at the same crossing less than five weeks apart, one family wants answers.
"Our speed limit is 25 to 30. Why should a train go 50?" says Kristine Buchanan.
It's a sound the whole town of Atkins is accustomed to but for Ruby Kersten and her sister Kristine, it is now a sound that will forever remind them of their mother.
"It was four o'clock Sunday evening. She was struck on the front end of my sister's car," says Buchanan.
Hill passed away the next day, the second person killed at the Avenue 4 railroad crossing in less than two months. It is the only crossing in town without active warning lights or barricades.
"When a bar is in front of you, you're automatically going to stop. The lights flashing would have made you stop. Just something, anything," says Buchanan.
Now, the city has closed the crossing, asking the highway department and Union Pacific Railroad to install active warning signals. But with limited funds and a waiting list, the highway department says it could take some time. Time Ruby Kersten says she no longer has with her mother.
"If they open it, don't open it unless it's got arms on it or flashing lights or something. Give somebody some warning," says Kersten.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department says federal funds are used to install warning signals at crossings. Those funds only amount to about a million dollars a year and with a price tag of $250,000 each, only three to four crossings can be updated a year.
A spokesperson from Union Pacific Railroad tells us more than half of all railroad accidents occur at crossings with active warning signals. The railroad added crossing accidents are preventable if drivers become more aware.