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Gary Indiana headline: "Three people are killed after the car they were in collided with a train."

"...after a car tried to beat a freight train..."

Always blame the car, which must have had a mind of its own, rather than a "driver" who was (probably) at fault.

Another case of "Journalism is dead'! Just reported on WLSTV in Chicago, witness said, "The driver went around the lower gates".  We are truly surrounded by idiots.

Every 90 minutes in the US, a train impacts either a vehicle or a pedestrian. I don't think any amount of warning devices will fix stupidity and hubris. I am a trained Operation Lifesaver volunteer. Though Covid has prevented in person presentations in schools and the like, I am hoping to be able to make perhaps a minor dent in these statistics in the future.

One of the most common causes is impatience on a two track grade crossing where the driver goes as soon as one train passes and gets creamed by the train entering the crossing on the other track.

Paul

Good comment on two track grade crossings, one train let it be Westbound clears the crossing gate down and signals flashing, a driver gets inpatient and goes around the center barriers crossing on the grade crossing and gets a side impact from the Eastbound train. IF THE GATES ARE DOWN AND THE SIGNALS FLASHING DO NOT GO AROUND THE BARRIERS, IF EQUIPPED, AND FOUL THE TRACK SPACE, YOU MAY BE PAYING FOR YOUR IMPATIENCE AND POSSIBLY YOUR FAMILY WITH YOUR LIFE AND THEIR LIFE. I have worked for a railroad and have seen the result of this impatience believe me not a pleasant sight. In fatal grade crossing accidents, either by a person going around lowered gates or barriers, if installed, or by a person committing suicide the engineer and conductor(if present in the cab) are witnessing a person(s) being killed, they are also victims in these situations.

Last edited by John Ochab

Problems of liability crop up if the reporter blames the driver before an investigation is conducted.

According to this evenings WLSTV news reports, the reporter on the scene only quoted the witness (more than one) that stated, "The driver drove around the lowered gates.".

Yes, I agree, most likely it was the driver being stupid.

Ya think?????

But until other causes are ruled out (vehicle malfunction, driver medical situation, crossing gate malfunction), it's better not to assign responsibility.

So,,,,,,,,,,you are saying that the many witnesses did NOT actually see what they saw?????

Yeah, that bad train ran off the tracks and flattened the car *sigh*. Kind of like the person arrested for assault saying "I put my fist out and he ran into it".

There have been times when I got a little scared with grade crossings, where a road is backed up , you have space on the other side beyond the grade crossing and then a car or two hole shot and there is no room and you are kind of hung on the grade crossing . Had that happen the other week, fortunately found room to move forward.

@John Ochab posted:

Good comment on two track grade crossings, one train let it be Westbound clears the crossing gate down and signals flashing, a driver gets inpatient and goes around the center barriers crossing on the grade crossing and gets a side impact from the Eastbound train.

That's how some friends of my parents died, except it was on BNSF's 3-track racetrack.  The wake was closed casket.

Rusty

"After a century of trains and cars coexisting, you might think people would have learned not to 'run the gates' at RR crossings."

Yeah, and after -- oh, I don't know -- maybe 100+ years of highway deaths and destruction caused by alcohol and the constant reminders not to drink and drive, people keep doing it.  And yesterday, in a town nearby, 5 people died in a fire in a multi-family house without smoke detectors, and a guy in my town, aged 68, working by himself on a roof, fell to his death. No amount of warnings, it seems, will get people to stop being self-destructive.

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom

I am so tired of hearing people bleating "journalism is dead"  every time they find a news story not to their liking.

Maybe instead of blaming journalism, you should find a more reliable source of news?  In about two seconds of search you can find plenty of stories quoting witnesses and the police about how the driver was to blame, e.g., here.



Do you scream "cooking is dead" if you happen to have a bad meal at a restaurant from time to time?

I am so tired of hearing people bleating "journalism is dead"  every time they find a news story not to their liking.

Maybe instead of blaming journalism, you should find a more reliable source of news?  In about two seconds of search you can find plenty of stories quoting witnesses and the police about how the driver was to blame, e.g., here.



Do you scream "cooking is dead" if you happen to have a bad meal at a restaurant from time to time?

All well and good, except I prefer to sit with my wife, with a glass of Bourbon, and watch the local news on TV, such as it is. Just my opinion but, there is just as much "crap" on the internet that is classified as "news" too.

Not sure if I should share this, kind of off topic.  Two months ago my gf & I were talking about taking the train to Chicago so we stopped by the Lake Villa train station about 9 am on a Tuesday to check the schedule.  The last train to Chicago was at 7 am or so.  As we walked back to our car there was a guy standing by the tracks and I immediately thought, why is he standing there, there are no more trains today going that way, so I asked him, are you waiting for a train.  He gave me this weird smile and took a step toward me mumbling something.  I could tell something was off so I walked away, and I remember as I got in the car saying, I’m glad that exchange was short.

Later I’m coming home and there are a bunch of flashing lights around the station.  Street closed off.  The dude walked in front of a train a short time after we saw him and killed himself.  Talk about creepy.  I don’t think there was anything I could have done but it does make you think.

I am so tired of hearing people bleating "journalism is dead"  every time they find a news story not to their liking.

When a “journalist” writes a story that blames the train for a grade crossing crossing accident when there are witnesses to the fact that the driver drove around the gates, what else can anyone assume but that the “journalist” is dead from the neck up. The entire premise is ridiculous.

I stand by my statement, and my basis for that statement goes a lot farther than just this one, local story.

Last edited by Rich Melvin

At the risk of being branded an "Old Fart" I will say that I, too, fondly recall those "Burma-Shave" signs along the highway. Some of them were quite funny!

They would be useless now. Young drivers today are mostly looking down at their phones, not looking out the window at road signs. Just watch what happens at any Interstate exit ramp these days. 

Last edited by Rich Melvin

If the OP's description of the car/train accident is an argument for journalism being dead then it would appear journalism died almost 100 years ago...the simple fact remains that descriptions of auto/train accidents haven't changed much over time.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 June 1926

Headline: Third Fatality Result Accident

“…died at eleven o’clock last night in the Atlantic Coast Line railroad hospital at Rocky Mount, from injuries sustained early Monday morning at Dunn when the automobile in which she was riding collided with Coast Line train No. 76.”



Mt. Pleasant Daily Times – 6 October 1930

Headline: Two Killed in Train-Auto Crash

”Two men are dead, two others are believed dying and a fifth is suffering from minor injuries today…The five men, all of whom lived in or near Shepherd, were riding in a sedan when it ploughed into a fog-obscured southbound Ann Arbor freight train….”



The Charleston Daily Mail West Virginia May 17, 1936

Headline: Death for Seven is Climax of Wedding

“Youngstown, O., May 16 (UP) - Seven members of a wedding party were killed, four of them instantly, today when their car crashed into the side of a freight train at West Austintown near here…Witnesses said their car was traveling about 50 miles an hour when it hit the train.”



The Daily Times New Philadelphia Ohio  July 28, 1941

Headline: Eight Killed in Auto, Train Crash

(By International News Service)
“An auto-train crash near Dayton …claimed eight lives …The train, the second section of a St. Louis to New York flyer, carried the wreckage 500 feet down the track. A witness said the auto paused momentarily as it approached the crossing, then drove on the tracks directly in front of the locomotive.”



Daily Reporter Dover Ohio April 18, 1956

Headline: 3 Sportsmen Killed in Car.

“Tiffin, Ohio (AP) - Three Lorain sportsmen, en route to a pigeon shoot in Kentucky, were killed today when their car hit an express train at nearby Attica Junction.”

Yep, like I said: "stupid cars."  According to these reports, no mention is made of the drivers' having done anything wrong.  I know it's a common semantic usage, but it's still wrong, and avoids blaming the drivers.  But why beat this to death? Journalists' misuse of the English language is a common source of humor at my house and among my friends.  The worst, of course, are the sports announcers (with the exception of Michael Kay and a few others) who mangle the language unmercifully with their malapropisms.

I'm sorry - where in any of the items cited did the text say the driver was responsible?  In every case it was the car that did the deed.

The original post made the following cite "after a car tried to beat a freight train"

1926 "when the automobile in which she was riding collided with Coast Line train No. 76"

1930 "a sedan when it ploughed into a fog-obscured southbound Ann Arbor freight train"

1936 " their car was traveling about 50 miles an hour when it hit the train"

1941 "the auto paused momentarily as it approached the crossing, then drove on the tracks directly in front of the locomotive"

1956 "when their car hit an express train at nearby Attica Junction"

  I'm particularly fond of the homicidal/suicidal 1941 car - imagine - it paused momentarily and then decided to place itself and its passengers directly in front of an oncoming train - it makes Christine look like a comedy car.

Last edited by Robert S. Butler
@catnap posted:

It's implied their was a driver just like it's implied their was an engineer operating the train.

Would it make you feel better if the headline read, "Driver Crosses Path of Engineer in Car-Train Collision"?

Indeed.  The rhetorical device used is called metonymy, and it substitutes one associated term for another.  An example is referring to the president as the White House, as in:  The White House announced new measures it will take to support [insert waste of money here].  No one envisions the building talking just as no one envisions the car operating on its own (unless its name is Christine).  The absolutely correct effect of the announcements quoted is to assign responsibility to the car driver, NOT to the train.  None of those examples supports a claim of poor journalism historically.

  I'm well aware of what was implied - that was entire point of the cited examples. In other words, from the standpoint of pure text there is no difference between the cited examples and the quote in the original post.

  It looks like what we have here is a case of violent agreement.  In the meantime I think we have driven well away from the reason for being of the OGR forum so I'm going to step out of the car, join Gunrunnerjohn,  and walk back over to the grade crossing to see if there is a train coming that might be worth photographing.

Last edited by Robert S. Butler

Here’s a wonderful example of television “journalists” demonstrating their wide knowledge of the subject at hand…

867755D1-30A0-448A-B92D-665FE65595A7

Now that is amazing! When an aircraft runs out of fuel, it will “…struggle to maintain altitude…” Gee…ya think? Of course, it was CNN, so what else could we expect.

Journalism is dead…everywhere. 👍

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Last edited by Rich Melvin
@palallin posted:

I do not choose to die on this particular hill, but, I propose that, if the RRs *could* get $$$$ by suing the folks who hit or get in front of trains, they *would* sue them.  I am pretty sure they have done a cost-benefit analysis and decided it won't pay.  I am willing to be persuaded otherwise by someone who knows the business.

What @palallin said. The minimum auto liability insurance in most states is well less than $100k, mostly for bodily injury. The railroads can make a case, but won't win anything compensable from individuals beyond their insurance. The minimum auto policy property damage insurance required in most states is less than $25k (think damage to locomotives, cars, signals, track). It might be productive to sue commercial carriers.

https://www.bankrate.com/insur...verage-requirements/

@lpb007 posted:

What @palallin said. The minimum auto liability insurance in most states is well less than $100k, mostly for bodily injury. The railroads can make a case, but won't win anything compensable from individuals beyond their insurance. The minimum auto policy property damage insurance required in most states is less than $25k (think damage to locomotives, cars, signals, track). It might be productive to sue commercial carriers.

https://www.bankrate.com/insur...verage-requirements/

But suppose the driver has deep pockets?  Could the railroad go after that?

Road closed for over 25 years.

OLD ROAD RRv2

This is a Google Earth Image. That now shows a road that has been closed by the CSX Railroad & The Oakland County Road Commission. In Highland Twp. Michigan. For over 25 years.

On a Friday afternoon three high school girls were killed by car train collision as they were driving home from school. The road leading up to the crossing was on a gravel downgrade. They put on their brakes and the car slides onto the track killing all three students.

This was a devastating event for this community. A lengthy investigation by the CSX RR & The Oakland County Road Commission came to the conclusion that this crossing was unsafe and closed the road permanently.

Gary

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@RJR posted:

GRJ, I read it somewhat differently:  that the road had been closed 25 years ago and somehow the kids now got on it (crossing gates are not the only barriers that can be driven around) and went barreling downhill.

I don't get that out of it.  However, it may be just the way he's writing it.  What I'm reading is this incident happened 25 years ago and resulted in the permanent closure of the road.

This was a devastating event for this community. A lengthy investigation by the CSX RR & The Oakland County Road Commission came to the conclusion that this crossing was unsafe and closed the road permanently.

Would adding a traffic light at mainline and high incident crossings help? For some reason people don't take crossing lights as seriously as they do a traffic light. Heck, the poles and electric are all ready there. We've all seen traffic lights replace stop signs because people don't seem to take stop signs seriously either. Highway departments should also play part in keeping people safe at crossings too. Not just the railroad. It is their road.

Stupid Motorist may not be the legal term, but in Arizona's monsoon season, flooded washes and roadways are common threats for drivers. Often times, when a motorist attempts to cross a flooded area they get stuck and need rescue. This occurs so commonly that the state passed a law in 1995 to try and relive the financial burden upon taxpayers for the costly rescues and which also pose safety risks to the public safety and law enforcement agencies who perform them.

The law is commonly referred to as the “stupid motorist law.”  Says it all.

New headline:

"A Kansas couple died Thursday when a train crashed into their car."

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news...ARb7W0?ocid=msedgntp

Once again a misleading headline!  It should have read more like...

"A Kansas couple died Thursday when they drove around lowered crossing barricades and in front of a speeding train."

If anyone had any doubt that journalism is dead...

You are correct, HW, and that is why I do not defend journalists of any stripe.  Too often, they select words which are technically correct but slanted towards conveying something, which creates headlines or supports a cause to which they adhere.  Try reading narratives of the same event in a left-leaning newspaper and a right-leaning newspaper.

We/I better drop a rant on journalists, or Honourable Webmaster will cut the thread.

You also are correct, GRJ.  The devil is in the details.  By massaging the details, one can create alternative facts.

As I get a little long in the tooth, I have more sympathy for "elderly couples" who get confused or fail to notice what is happening.  But all too often, these crossing accidents are the result of a knowing choice (going around the gates) or negligence (failure to STOP-LOOK-LISTEN).

Several decades ago, we had a horrific accident here in Virginia.  The Catlett VFD was responding to a fire.  The driveway to the fire crossed the Southern single-track mainline, guarded only by a crossbuck.  Blowing their siren loudly, they didn't hear the train horn.  Several firemen were killed.

Taking a devastating event & turning it into a positive.

On October 10, 1997 we lost students in a devastating train / car collision. I spent 36 years teaching Drivers Education at Milford High School and this collision had to be addressed in a manor that would help students learn from this collision.

Calling these students “Stupid” would be the wrong approach. Have to present this information in a manor that will help students to understand the facts and name calling is a poor way.

The DE Instructors teamed up with the Milford Times and they supplied us with photos to share. We also worked with The CSX Railroad “Operation Lifesaver”. The CSX Railroad had retired engineers who would come out to the school and talk to our DE Students. These engineers and the material they had to share met the objectives to help students. They never used the term “Stupid Driver”

Below are some photos supplied by our local newspaper: “Milford Times” and we are still using these photos today and “Operation Lifesaver”.

1 CSX Crash : Highland

2 CSX Crash : Highland 1997

3 CSX Crash : Highland

Hope this helps: Gary

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Last edited by trainroomgary

In my "spare time" of which I don't seem to have as much lately, I teach new drivers in our volunteer departments the specifics of ambulance and fire apparatus response. I don't know whether, technically, our rules are part of the traffic code in New York, or in other states, but our policy is as  follows:  Every lane of intersecting traffic is to be considered a separate intersection. That means that approaching an intersection with multiple lanes going across, the driver is obligated to stop and look both directions, before crossing the next lane.  A railroad track, whether signaled or dark, is considered a crossing lane, and the driver is supposed to stop, or at least slow the F down considerably, before crossing the tracks.

"The siren was too loud" is not a valid excuse. If the fire engine was responding to an area that had un-signaled RR crossings, we may infer that it was a rural area, where use of the siren was <possibly> not a necessity.  We get lots of well-meaning volunteers who think that the siren is a weapon or force field that will push opposing vehicles out of the way.  They have been watching too many TV shows. We are obligated to sound the siren at intersections, but not to sound them constantly.  We are also obligated, by state law, to stop at every stop sign along the way. (Sometimes we actually do that.)

In my "spare time" of which I don't seem to have as much lately, I teach new drivers in our volunteer departments the specifics of ambulance and fire apparatus response. I don't know whether, technically, our rules are part of the traffic code in New York, or in other states, but our policy is as  follows:  Every lane of intersecting traffic is to be considered a separate intersection. That means that approaching an intersection with multiple lanes going across, the driver is obligated to stop and look both directions, before crossing the next lane.  A railroad track, whether signaled or dark, is considered a crossing lane, and the driver is supposed to stop, or at least slow the F down considerably, before crossing the tracks.

"The siren was too loud" is not a valid excuse. If the fire engine was responding to an area that had un-signaled RR crossings, we may infer that it was a rural area, where use of the siren was <possibly> not a necessity.  We get lots of well-meaning volunteers who think that the siren is a weapon or force field that will push opposing vehicles out of the way.  They have been watching too many TV shows. We are obligated to sound the siren at intersections, but not to sound them constantly.  We are also obligated, by state law, to stop at every stop sign along the way. (Sometimes we actually do that.)

"....each lane of intersecting traffic is to be consideted a separate intersection," is wise and safe.

A woman was recently killed in Wilmington, MA when the car she was driving was struck by a train as she was crossing the tracks and the gates failed to lower at all.

Turns out the gates had been inspected and tested earlier by an Amtrack employee/contractor who forgot to turn the system back on to operational status before he left. His employment has been terminated.

Darwin's theory is not limited just to drivers of motor vehicles.

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.

Last edited by Number 90
@mark s posted:

Think the conductor/brakeman in the waycar bare 99% of the responsibility for not protecting the crossing with flags or flares

Actually, Mark, there was no such requirement.  I'll agree that it could have been helpful in this case, but not required.  When you start requiring things like that, you vastly increase your liability, which is already high, and there are tons of mitigating factors that can hopelessly entangle the railroad in extra liability..

But it was daylight, both wigwags were in operation, and the oncoming train was sounding the whistle.  And there was enough visibility around the rear of the waycar, for the driver to creep up and see for a sufficient distance to cross safely.  It's the driver's responsibility to decide if it is safe to cross the tracks.

Nonetheless, I wish that we had purposely blocked the crossing that day, on our own, without being required to.

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