Like most people )probably including most readers of this post), I have a few regrets. One of them involves a trip as Engineer in freight service, from Hobart (Los Angeles) to San Bernardino, in the 1970's.
The Santa Fe, between Fullerton and Riverside, was a single track railroad operated under CTC rules. We left Porphyry (Corona) on a flashing yellow signal -- Approach Medium, requiring that we approach the next signal prepared to pass it at a speed not exceeding 40 MPH. The next signal displayed a yellow aspect, requiring us to reduce speed to 40 MPH or less, and be prepared to stop at the next signal, which was located at the heading-in switch of a siding called May. That signal displayed flashing red, instructing us to head in, and the signal at the other end of the siding was red, requiring us to stop in the siding.
The area was somewhat rural then, and there was a road crossing, protected by a pair of wigwag signals, about 200 feet into the siding. Our train would just fit, after clearing that road crossing. The Conductor informed me by radio, that our waycar had just cleared the crossing, and I stopped with about one car length between the engine and the signal. The waycar was still within the crossing circuit, causing the wigwags to continue swinging and ringing. As we were heading in, I had heard the voice of the Engineer on a westbound train approaching Arlington, asking the Train Dispatcher if he was going to hold that train at May, as a flashing yellow signal was in view. "Nope. East man's heading in there for you." And right after that conversation, the rear end of our train cleared the Main Track. So, the westbound train got a green signal, and came to May at 60 MPH. Just before the train entered the crossing, an automobile was driven across, behind the waycar, which was partially blocking the driver's view, and was t-boned by the locomotives, with all occupants of the auto being fatally injured.
I regret that I did not suggest to the Conductor that we keep the crossing blocked intentionally until we had met the opposing train. I regret that I did not specifically alert the rear end crew to the approach of the other train. I regret that the driver of the car did not listen for the whistle of the approaching train. There was not any operating rule violation involved, and there was no legal liability to take any of those measures, but a complex sequence of events led to human deaths, and I have been nagged by what-ifs for 35 years. And I remembered that day at May, every time I stopped a train near a road crossing, making sure to minimize opportunities for unplanned events.