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5/24/16 - Capitol Corridor train hits vehicle - 2 dead

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AmtrakLKL

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Maybe it's time for a service disruption sub-forum for all these reports.
 

BCL

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I don't think many drivers intentionally or knowingly stop on the tracks. It may happen when a driver misjudges how much room there will be ahead and the vehicle behind leaves no room to back up. Heck, in my first years driving I'd freaked out and sped through a crossing as the gates were lowering.

I suppose a lot of commercial vehicles and school buses stop at all railroad crossings before proceeding. Isn't that supposed to give adequate time to judge how much space there is to clear the crossing.
 
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chakk

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Yes, all school buses, commercial buses, and trucks carrying hazardous cargo are required by law to stop at all railroad grade crossings, unless there is a prominently displayed sign that makes that particular crossing exempt from the "full stop" rule.
 

chakk

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This UK news media got the distance wrong that it took the train to stop after hitting the car. The correct distance was between 1/8 of a mile (approximately 660 feet) and 1/4 of a mile (approximately 1,320 feet).

Nevertheless, a terrible tragedy....
 

andersone

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Sadly another example of the Train ALWAYS wins,,, my condolences to the families,,, and my prayers for the Amtrak crew and responders who had this tragedy thrust into their life
 

afigg

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Local news article on the tragic collision: KRON 4: Mother, toddler killed after Amtrak train strikes their SUV in San Leandro. Excerpt:

The vehicle was stuck in heavy traffic going north on Washington Avenue near Chapman Road. This is a four-lane road where the train tracks cross the road at an angle, and it is unknown if the driver saw the train coming, Lt. Robert McManus said.
Looked up the crossing on Google Map. The single track railroad line crosses Washington Avenue at a low angle near an intersection with a side road. The grade crossing is a challenging one as is the nearby grade crossing across the 5-6 lane wide Halcyon Drive. Given the density of buildings and homes in the area around the 2 grade crossings, they look to be crossings that really should be fully grade separated, although it wouldn't be a simple project.

Did a search for the San Leandro Washington Avenue grade crossing and found this City of San Leandro project page. There is an entry for a Washington/Chapman Railroad Crossing Improvement Project to add some safety improvements to the grade crossings. But I don't see how adding a median strip and pedestrian fencing is going to address safety when traffic gets backed up across the angled long grade crossing.
 

Karl1459

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I see something in the pictures that is really scary to me. The SUV wedged under the cab car a good 3 feet, fortunately it slid. Had it stuck on the tracks a little bit more the front of the SUV could easily have gotten under the front truck and caused a derailment at speed.

Seems like there needs to be some sort of pilot/deflector installed under the front end of the cab cars.
 

CCC1007

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I see something in the pictures that is really scary to me. The SUV wedged under the cab car a good 3 feet, fortunately it slid. Had it stuck on the tracks a little bit more the front of the SUV could easily have gotten under the front truck and caused a derailment at speed.

Seems like there needs to be some sort of pilot/deflector installed under the front end of the cab cars.
There already is a pilot on the cab cars and locomotives, usually shaped like a snow plow.
 

neroden

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Never drive onto the tracks unless you can get all the way across them to the other side. They taught us this over and over and over again as a kid. Apparently there's no drivers' education any more and no driving exams. I am angry that people will recklessly endanger the lives of their children like this.
 
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John Bredin

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Never drive onto the tracks unless you can get all the way across them to the other side. They taught us this over and over and over again as a kid. Apparently there's no drivers' education any more and no driving exams. I am angry that people will recklessly endanger the lives of their children like this.
Well, I'd hardly say there's no driver's ed anymore, but like history class that never gets past World War One, the teachers choose to cover what they cover in the time allotted.

The last time I went to driving safety school* in 2006, the written materials had a page on rail-crossing safety but the teacher skipped past it to keep the class moving along. I asked the teacher about it during the next break, and he not only apologized but told some grade-crossing horror stories in true drivers-ed fashion. :giggle:

*The four-hour class you take to have a vehicle-code ticket not be reported to the Secretary of State. In metro Chicago, they use materials and teachers from the well-respected Center for Public Safety at Northwestern University, so definitely not the gym teacher subbing as the driver's ed teacher and popping in safety videos so he can read the newspaper. :giggle:
 

Devil's Advocate

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Never drive onto the tracks unless you can get all the way across them to the other side. They taught us this over and over and over again as a kid. Apparently there's no drivers' education any more and no driving exams. I am angry that people will recklessly endanger the lives of their children like this.
It's such a simple concept and a very easy rule to follow but I've seen many people ignore it. Mostly pickup and SUV drivers in my experience. I'd like to suggest all new drivers be limited to Smart cars at first. Hard to drive like a maniac when you're in something that tiny. Once you've proven you understand how to drive responsibly for a year or two you can move up to larger vehicles.
 
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John Bredin

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suburban Chicago (Buffalo Grove)
Never drive onto the tracks unless you can get all the way across them to the other side. They taught us this over and over and over again as a kid. Apparently there's no drivers' education any more and no driving exams. I am angry that people will recklessly endanger the lives of their children like this.
It's such a simple concept and a very easy rule to follow but I've seen many people ignore it.
Yes, and I've personally heard [honk!] many more people [honk!!] loudly urging [HONK!] someone else :rolleyes: in a vehicle in front of them [HONK!!] to ignore it.

Mostly pickup and SUV drivers in my experience. I'd like to suggest all new drivers be limited to Smart cars at first. Hard to drive like a maniac when you're in something that tiny. Once you've proven you understand how to drive responsibly for a year or two you can move up to larger vehicles.
I like it! I drive a sedan, but I'm very aware of the sheer size difference between me and the trucks & SUVs around me in traffic.

Actually, a bicycle might be a better choice than a Smart car in relatively bike-able cities. While riding a bike, I've found myself yelling at a driver that he could kill me with one wrong move while the worst I can do to him is scrape off some paint or cause a dent. :eek:
 

GG-1

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Never drive onto the tracks unless you can get all the way across them to the other side. They taught us this over and over and over again as a kid. Apparently there's no drivers' education any more and no driving exams. I am angry that people will recklessly endanger the lives of their children like this.
Aloha

Been a while, but the last time I did the written test in Honolulu, I was marked wrong on one question. The question asked what should you do if you approached a RR Crossing and could see the train. Their "correct" answer was you should stop then proceed. DUH!
 

BCL

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I saw a news report on this. Apologies since I can't find a link with the video.

There was a utility crew doing work in the area, and some witnesses believe it led to a backup before the crossing. However, one witness claims that the vehicle was stopped with the front end on the tracks, but where there was plenty of clear space beyond the tracks. He said she stopped on the tracks rather than proceed past the tracks.

Sounds like she was confused as to how to proceed once the crossing gates came down.
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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I don't think many drivers intentionally or knowingly stop on the tracks. It may happen when a driver misjudges how much room there will be ahead and the vehicle behind leaves no room to back up.
A short while ago, I was on a major street which had freight tracks running parallel. Up ahead was a street that crossed the street I was on, and crossed over those tracks.

While I was stopped at the red light for that upcoming intersection, a small freight train went by. Just after that train went by, my light turned green, and my traffic started to move. As I go up nearer to the intersection, I noticed a car now stopped right on the track. I was thinking just how stupid can one be? A train just went thru seconds earlier (that driver must have seen it!). How can any one not be aware that those are active tracks and stopping right on them, is a very bad choice.

BTW, I don't think there was any misjudgment of room. Just the need, in heavy traffic, to not allow any more than a few inch gap between yourself and the vehicle in front. Basically, the need to protect one's place in line.
 

BCL

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Just a follow up on the TV news piece I saw. There is no article up, but it was on KTVU TV. The way the witness described it, it seems like she might have just stopped when the lights and crossing bars went down, but had no idea that she was on the tracks. The gist seemed to be that she had time to proceed forward, but she probably believed she was in a safe place to wait for the train to pass.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Just a follow up on the TV news piece I saw. There is no article up, but it was on KTVU TV. The way the witness described it, it seems like she might have just stopped when the lights and crossing bars went down, but had no idea that she was on the tracks. The gist seemed to be that she had time to proceed forward, but she probably believed she was in a safe place to wait for the train to pass.
Crossings with stoplights are almost always setup to interrupt the normal traffic cycle and create a clear path away from the crossing whenever a train is approaching. It's possible the crossing system wasn't operating correctly or that one or more vehicles were blocking the exit route, but that still doesn't absolve this driver from ultimate responsibility. It is the responsibility of the driver to recognize grade crossings and to only enter the crossing once it is clear to pass.
 

BCL

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Just a follow up on the TV news piece I saw. There is no article up, but it was on KTVU TV. The way the witness described it, it seems like she might have just stopped when the lights and crossing bars went down, but had no idea that she was on the tracks. The gist seemed to be that she had time to proceed forward, but she probably believed she was in a safe place to wait for the train to pass.
Crossings with stoplights are almost always setup to interrupt the normal traffic cycle and create a clear path away from the crossing whenever a train is approaching. It's possible the crossing system wasn't operating correctly or that one or more vehicles were blocking the exit route, but that still doesn't absolve this driver from ultimate responsibility. It is the responsibility of the driver to recognize grade crossings and to only enter the crossing once it is clear to pass.
The witness said she had nothing but unimpeded pavement ahead of her. It was a sharp angle to the tracks though.
 
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