20-S-03: Crossing Collision

Background

On a January day in the Lake States Region, a driver of a fully loaded truck hauling pulpwood failed to stop and entered an uncontrolled railroad intersection resulting in a train truck collision.

Personal Characteristics

The driver was a contract trucker hired by the logging business to haul pulpwood to a nearby manufacturing facility. He was an experienced truck driver and had contracted with the logging business in the past.

Unsafe Acts and Conditions

Road conditions at the time were fair, partially snow covered. Weather conditions were cloudy, and visibility was good. The approach to the railroad crossing was appropriately marked with signage in two locations warning of the crossing. The truck driver did not come to a complete stop. Rather he rolled up to the crossing. By the time he noticed the train was coming, it was too late to stop the fully loaded pulpwood truck and trailer. The driver attempted to cross the intersection before the train reached it.

Accident

The driver and cab of the truck made it through the intersection, but the fully loaded trailer was struck by the train near the rear axles. The collision resulted in pulpwood being scattered at the scene. The highway and rail intersection were closed until the accident was assessed and pulpwood picked-up.

Injury

The driver was extremely fortunate in this instance and suffered no injuries.

Recommendations for Corrections

  • Remember anytime is train time.
  • Do not become complacent, even on infrequently used railroad crossings.
  • Slow down when approaching a crossing STOP and look both ways, TWICE.
  • Never race to a train track crossing.
  • When approaching a crossing listen for whistles or bells.
  • Never shift gears on the railroad crossing, downshift before you reach it.
  • If you must stop for a train, keep 15 to 50 feet from the tracks.
  • Be aware of road conditions and added stopping distance required for road conditions or a loaded truck and trailer.

Crossing Collision

By Tim O’Hara, FRA Director, Government Affairs and Manager, Lake States Region