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Passenger Trains > MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality


Date: 01/22/22 20:30
MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: Wurli1938

MBTA commuter train on Haverhill collides with car at crossing in North Wilmington yesterday with a fatality for the 60 year old driver.

Tonight the news reported that a signal maintainer had been working on the crossing. When he finished he did not put the crossing back into service and the gates did not go down when the train came through. The lights on the crossing signs were flashing.

Sad for a driver that did nothing wrong.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/23/22 01:18
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: ClubCar

Sad for a driver who did nothing wrong?  The driver still should have looked, regardless, and if those red flashing lights were working, he should have been very careful before crossing over those tracks.  Too many drivers in this country do not slow down at all when approaching a railroad crossing.  Many fly across the tracks without ever looking in either direction which is very sad, and a poor way to drive.  I'm sorry for his family, may he rest in peace.  But I am also sorry for that engineer as this will be with him the rest of his life also.
John in White Marsh, Maryland



Date: 01/23/22 03:59
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: steamloco

Drivers on Trainorders are perfect I've noticed, they stop to open the windows  and check tracks always no matter what at all crossings.



Date: 01/23/22 06:47
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: joemvcnj

If the gates are up AND there are no lights flashing, there is absolutely no reason to slow down any more than approaching a green light at an intersection (except for rough road). If the lights are still flashing, I hold back in case the gates are about to lower again for a train on the other track going the opposite direction. MBTA is negligent for faulty wiring,safety checks, and will be out a lot of money.



Date: 01/23/22 08:38
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: ALCO630

ClubCar Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sad for a driver who did nothing wrong?  The
> driver still should have looked, regardless, and
> if those red flashing lights were working, he
> should have been very careful before crossing over
> those tracks.  Too many drivers in this country
> do not slow down at all when approaching a
> railroad crossing.  Many fly across the tracks
> without ever looking in either direction which is
> very sad, and a poor way to drive.  I'm sorry for
> his family, may he rest in peace.  But I am also
> sorry for that engineer as this will be with him
> the rest of his life also.
> John in White Marsh, Maryland

If the lights aren’t flashing and the gates aren’t down, there’s absolutely no reason to slow down and look. Put the blame where the blame belongs, on the shoulders of the maintainer with his head up his caboose

Posted from iPhone

Doug Wetherhold
Macungie, PA



Date: 01/23/22 11:18
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: MojaveBill

I always look regardless and have since I began driving in 1954.
But I was a cop and reporter and have seen a lot of  train-car crashes...

Bill Deaver
Tehachapi, CA



Date: 01/23/22 12:12
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: Jckaufman

I once came upon a grade crossing where the lights were flashing but the gates were up.  I stopped in front of the tracks and scrutinized the rails in both directions.  I couldn't see any reason for the lights to be flashing.  But when I decided to go, I hit the gas hard and crossed those tracks as fast as I could, as if a train might suddenly appear and run me down!



Date: 01/23/22 13:55
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: Lansing

Think about how many thousands of encounters there are with trains at gated crossings every single day with no incident. The chance of a human caused failure of the warning devices, while not zero, is tremendously low. I worked for a Class 1 for almost 10 years and don't always look when crossing a gated crossing, i mean why would I? I don't slow down at green lights and a human caused failure can happen there too.



Date: 01/23/22 14:15
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: RevRandy

I certainly extend my thoughts not only to the operating crew but also to the family of the deceased. This is a tragic situation.

But it does raise a question in my mind - what is the primary and the secondary warning at a crossing?  It would seem to me that the flashing lights (which were said to be operating) are the primary warning source, the gates being only a secondary reinforcement.  Is this a correct interpretation: that the gates are simply there to enforce the warning given primarily by the flashing lights (and probably bells)?



Date: 01/23/22 16:31
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: justalurker66

4thDistrict Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... every state and local law that I am aware of states that the presence
> of flashing lights requires a driver to come to a full stop, just like at a red
> flashing light at a street intersection.

Without surveying every law nationwide I would agree. The laws I am aware of require a stop. However I have noticed that many drivers treat red lights at a gated crossing like yellow lights at a traffic light. Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow means go faster (to beat the light). Not legal but "typical" human behavior. Witnesses said the driver who was killed followed two other vehicles over the crossing. That introduces another "typical" human behavior - following the herd. Lights on gates NOT down other cars passing through. Not a good situation. Which is why most if not all railroads have a "stop and protect" rule (or other flagging) in place when there is a crossing malfunction.

> After stopping, if no trains are in sight the driver may proceed. But he must stop first. 

Not in Indiana and likely other states have similar laws. Stop means stop at a railroad crossing. But yes, I have seen people stop then roll through more often than I care to remember. Including a police officer who decided to drive around down gates (not the best example to the public). I have also seen an officer ticket someone from going around a gate where there was an obvious crossing malfunction (tangent track with clear visibility and no trains).

Laws are laws and I agree that everyone should follow the laws. I also believe that there needs to be responsibility for the error the railroad made. This was a malfunctioning crossing.



Date: 01/24/22 10:17
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: DevalDragon

Feom everything I have read, the crossing was working as intended. The signal maintainer deactivated it so the crossing did nothing. As it was supposed to.



Date: 01/24/22 10:57
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: ALCO630

DevalDragon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Feom everything I have read, the crossing was
> working as intended. The signal maintainer
> deactivated it so the crossing did nothing. As it
> was supposed to.

Correct. And then after he was finished, he left without reactivating the crossing. Criminal incompetence and negligent homicide is what it should be looked upon as. Of course however, it will be everybody else’s fault except for the railroad or the maintainer

Posted from iPhone

Doug Wetherhold
Macungie, PA



Date: 01/24/22 15:20
Re: MBTA hits car at crossing with fatality
Author: NCA1022

RevRandy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I certainly extend my thoughts not only to the
> operating crew but also to the family of the
> deceased. This is a tragic situation.
>
> But it does raise a question in my mind - what is
> the primary and the secondary warning at a
> crossing?  It would seem to me that the flashing
> lights (which were said to be operating) are the
> primary warning source, the gates being only a
> secondary reinforcement.  Is this a correct
> interpretation: that the gates are simply there to
> enforce the warning given primarily by the
> flashing lights (and probably bells)?

Here in CA, the flashing lights are to be obeyed, regardless of the position of the gates.   In Sacramento a few years ago, local police would occasionally monitor a street that crossed the RTA light rail line at grade at 51st Street in East Sacramento.  This was my normal commute route when I was living in East Sac and working at the UC Davis Medical Center campus.  The normal functioning  of this crossing was as usual - flash lights then drop the gate.   After the RTA train cleared, the gates would go up, then the lights would stop flashing   For some reason, the timing at all the RTA grade crossings seem to be set to provide an unusually long time for the crossing circuit to activate before the light rail train occupies the crossing.   And the gates stay down a long time after the train clears as well.   This long duration timing creates a lot of impatient drivers.    So when the gates go up, people start driving across the tracks, even tho the lights are still flashing for several more seconds.   The Sacramento PD discovered they can write red light violations if a car passes the flashing red lights, even tho train has passed.  (Note this is a double track line, but the gates would not have gone up if another train coming from the opposite direction had occupied the crossing circuit.)  I was warned about this by a co-worker and so I always waited for the lights to stop flashing before crossing and never got caught.  I know this is pretty picky, but I suspect the Sacto PD (like in many places these days) were looking to fill a budget hole with traffic citation cash.

Moral of the story:  Wait until the lights stop flashing before crossing.

- Norm



 



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