Amtrak Train Could Not Stop in Time to Avoid Truck on Track North of Austin
In a horrific collision, 54-year-old Donald Patrick Turner was killed when he drove into the path of an Amtrak train. Why are deaths like these rising in Texas when they are decreasing nationally?
In this case, the fault belongs to the driver. The train collision occurred just before 1:00 p.m. on State Highway 95 and County Road 387 near Bartlett on November 25th. The train was en route from San Antonio to Chicago and had just left the Taylor station when the train hit Mr. Turner’s Chevrolet Silverado. The pickup truck burst into flames and was pushed about three-quarters of a mile down the tracks until the train came to a stop. Fortunately, none of the 239 passengers sustained injuries. The Fort Worth conductor, 58 year-old Edward Hobbs, was treated for minor injuries at the scene.
Texas Deaths Are On The Rise
Deaths in Texas at railroad crossings doubled in 2012, raising questions about whether the industry is safely maintaining and monitoring the 11,000 miles of train tracks in our state. According to the Associated Press, 32 people died at railroad crossings across the state and 34 and 44 people died in the previous two years, much higher than the previous average of 20 deaths a year.Critics believe that the railroads have increased the speed of trains but have failed to adjust the timing of crossing gates. Railroad officials contend that motorists are to blame.
The federal government has implemented new regulations to prevent these collisions which have diminished the number of people dying in these crashes. Only 168 people died in the U.S. through the end of August of 2012, the last year statistics were available.
Train Crossing Deaths
An average freight train travelling 55 mph takes more than one mile to stop. Operation Lifesaver
explains that by the time a train engineer sees a car or pedestrian on
the tracks, it is usually too late to avoid a collision. You are
unlikely to hear or see the train until it is closer than you think
because today’s models do not make the noisy clacking noise we associate with trains and because they often travel at high speed, especially on
long stretches between stations.
In addition, a locomotive typically weighs about 200 tons, but
can weigh as much as 6,000 tons. Compare this to the 3 tons an average
pickup truck weighs. Operation Lifesaver points out that this is the
same weight ratio of a car to a soda can, an image that puts the deadly consequences of being hit by a train into perspective.
Crossing Railroad Tracks Safely
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) provides important tips for Texas drivers to cross railroad tracks safely: