Woman in car accident with train apparently ignored crossbars

Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Jan 26, 2011

Railroad accidents, because they almost always certainly lead to high number of fatalities, are one of the most devastating vehicle accidents. About 3,000 railroad accidents happen each year and about 1,000 die due to these accidents. Here are some of the most common causes of railroad accidents:

  • Improper maintenance of railroads that leads to defects in the tracks.
  • Mechanical failure
  • Improper loading or over loading of cargo
  • Improper switching
  • Waste materials or hazardous chemicals on board the train
  • Defective equipment including train controls and locomotive horns
  • Defective signals
  • Not enough train security
  • Defects in railroad crossing and highway rail
  • Collapsed bridges
  • Collisions with another form of vehicle (buses, cars, trucks)
  • Train crews that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol

According to a study by the National Transportation Safety Board, the primary cause of railroad accidents involves human error. They performed investigations of different train accidents to find out the human factor in these disasters.

Police believe that the woman who died Friday morning after crashing into a train locomotive may have been distracted, or she may have tried to beat the train signal. The fatal car accident occurred at about 11:20 a.m. on Friday, January 21, at the railroad crossing on Old Hickory Boulevard just south of Lebanon Pike.

According to police reports, the 61-year-old Nashville woman had been driving a Plymouth Voyager van southbound on Old Hickory Boulevard before the car-train accident. She was traveling at about 50 to 55 miles per hour.

According to a witness, she did not appear to slow down as she approached the train crossing, even though the crossing lights and bells were activated. However, there should not be a rush to judgment, and a thorough investigation into this tragedy will be conducted by the NTSB.

Just at that moment, a Nashville & Eastern locomotive, which was pulling no cars and was going about 25 miles per hour, entered the railroad crossing and crashed into the van. The woman died at the scene. She was alone in her car.

The witness police interviewed confirmed that the railroad crossing signal's lights and bells were working before the crash. Unfortunately, the woman either did not perceive the alarms or chose to ignore them.

Police found no evidence of alcohol or drug use at the scene or in the woman's wrecked car, and they believe that intoxication was not an issue, although the investigation is not yet complete.

Remember safety at railroad crossings: stop, look and listen

Many people think that trains and train signals are so loud and bright that they could not fail to notice an oncoming train. It is crucial for us all to realize that car-train collisions are not all that rare. This would not be the first time a distracted driver missed train signals with tragic results.

With the noise of traffic and the radio, train signals can be tuned out. If you add a distraction such as making a cell phone call or reading a text message, you simply may not become aware of train signals until it is too late, especially at intersections without signal arms that come down and block the roadway.

Remember the rule you were probably given as a child: Whenever you approach a railroad crossing, stop, look and listen for the train before proceeding.

Source: Nashville Post, "Woman killed after apparently failing to yield her van to train," January 21, 2011

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