BLE helps legislative train crew protections in Kentucky

Thanks to the legislative efforts of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, train crew members in Kentucky cannot be forced to show their personal drivers' licenses to law enforcement officials following highway-rail grade crossing collisions.

In addition, insurance companies cannot raise the auto insurance rates of train crew members based on accidents that happen while working in a professional capacity for the railroad.

In recent years, it has become common practice for Kentucky law enforcement officials to force locomotive engineers to show a drivers' license following highway-rail grade crossing incidents - in spite of the emotional trauma engineers were going through at the time.

But the situation became worse when the engineers' auto insurance companies got involved.

Information on the engineers' drivers licenses inevitably appeared on accident reports filed with the Kentucky Department of Transportation (KDOT). Even though the BLE members were functioning in a professional capacity as locomotive engineers at the time of the collision, their personal auto insurance premiums were increased after their insurance companies obtained copies of the KDOT accident reports.

"It was hard to believe that our members' private auto insurance premiums could be increased based on accidents that happened while they were behind the throttle of a locomotive and not behind the wheel of an automobile," said Kentucky State Legislative Board Chairman Tommy Mayne.

Under the new BLE-sponsored legislation, locomotive engineers and other train crew members have the legal right not to show their personal drivers licenses to authorities following car-train collisions or derailments. In addition, the new law forbids insurance companies from raising the premiums of train crew members involved in accidents while working in a professional capacity for the railroad.

Brother Mayne was instrumental in lobbying for passage of the new law, saying he hoped it would set a precedent in other states. He worked closely with State Representative Perry Clark from Louisville, Ky., who introduced the legislation.

Mayne also thanked Terry Beadles for his efforts in lobbying members of the Kentucky General Assembly for passage of the bill. Brother Beadles is Secretary-Treasurer of the Board. Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton signed it into law on April 21, 2000.

Brother Mayne credited his counterparts in West Virginia for helping craft the Kentucky legislation. Brent Boggs and Darrell Blake were able to have a similar law passed in their home state of West Virginia.

Pertinent parts of the new law read as follows:

SECTION 1. A new section of KRS Chapter 277 is created to read as follows:

(1) In any circumstance involving an accident on a railroad, or any alleged violation of law involving the operation of a train, in which the engineer or any other train crew member is detained by any law enforcement officer investigating the accident or alleged violation of law:

(a) The engineer and other train crew members shall not be required to show the law enforcement officer the person's operator's license issued under KRS Chapter 186; and

(b) The law enforcement officer shall be prohibited from requiring an engineer or other train crew member to show the law enforcement officer the person's operator's license issued under KRS Chapter 186. ..

SECTION 2. KRS 189.635 is amended to read as follows:

(7) The motor vehicle insurers of any train engineer or other train crew member involved in an accident on a railroad while functioning in their professional capacity shall be prohibited from obtaining a copy of any accident report filed on the accident under this section without written consent from the individual the company insures. Insurance companies issuing motor vehicle policies in the Commonwealth shall be prohibited from raising a policyholder's rates solely because the policyholder, in his or her professional capacity, is a train engineer or other train crew member involved in an accident on a railroad.


2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers