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Metro North, 6 dead

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Posted by ACY Tom on Friday, March 27, 2015 11:02 PM

I thought about starting a new thread, but we might as well keep all the grade crossing stuff together.  This morning (March 27) a semi bottomed out on a CSX crossing at Doctor's Lake, FL & was destroyed by a Freight train.  Nobody hurt, but the truck and its cargo --- a McLaren sports car --- were significantly reduced in value, as you might imagine.  The crossing has a sign prohibiting trucks, but a witness says the sign is placed so that a trucker can't see it till he is already on the prohibited road.Bang Head  The trucker has done hauling for the McLaren's owner, who lives nearby.  I don't know whether this means he should have been familiar with this crossing.

At least one news item described the CSX track as a "one-train rail".  I think the writer means it's a single track line, which is true.  The bizarre phraseology helps to illustrate the deplorable level of understanding of the railroad industry among the Press, and how to communicate information about railroads through the use of the English language.  Doesn't this writer have an editor?

Tom

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 28, 2015 6:33 AM

ACY

I thought about starting a new thread, but we might as well keep all the grade crossing stuff together.  This morning (March 27) a semi bottomed out on a CSX crossing at Doctor's Lake, FL & was destroyed by a Freight train.  Nobody hurt, but the truck and its cargo --- a McLaren sports car --- were significantly reduced in value, as you might imagine.  The crossing has a sign prohibiting trucks, but a witness says the sign is placed so that a trucker can't see it till he is already on the prohibited road.Bang Head  The trucker has done hauling for the McLaren's owner, who lives nearby.  I don't know whether this means he should have been familiar with this crossing.

At least one news item described the CSX track as a "one-train rail".  I think the writer means it's a single track line, which is true.  The bizarre phraseology helps to illustrate the deplorable level of understanding of the railroad industry among the Press, and how to communicate information about railroads through the use of the English language.  Doesn't this writer have an editor?

Tom

Another report I read said the truck was a dualie pickup, not a Semi-tractor type rig.  No real mention of what kind of trailer was involved.

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Posted by edblysard on Saturday, March 28, 2015 4:08 PM

Say it aint so...not a McLaren.....Wouldn't hurt so much is it was an Alfa.

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, March 29, 2015 8:32 AM
gardendance
 
 
 
Euclid

We know that initially, the driver was blocked from backing up due to being blocked by the car behind her.

...

I do not know how much room she had behind her.

...

Many news reports said that the driver moved back in order to give her room to back up.  I don't think it is a particularly wild assumption to conclude that she initially did not have room to back up.

 

 

Euclid, please acknowledge the BIG difference between "we know" and "I do not know" and "assumption". I agree that it's not a particularly wild assumption, but again I don't remember reading anything that said the car behind her was blocking her.

The article wanswheel linked quotes that 2nd car's driver "There was nobody behind me so I backed up real fast", but doesn't say anything about him being so close to her that she couldn't have backed up in the first place. Of course I'd hardly expect him to say "I was right up against her bumper like I always do whenever I'm at a grade crossing"

 
Norm48327

What information the media presents is always suspect as far as accuracy goes. Whether there was enough room for her to back up may not even be mentioned in the official report. Therefore, we are sort of beating the proverbial dead horse.

 

 

 
Euclid

Norm,

...

But let's say she did have room to back up and chose not to.  What then is the conclusion here that would make this issue so critical in your mind? 

 

Patrick,
I will clarify. I have no idea whether the driver had room to back up. If the car behind her was touching her vehicle, she would have had zero room to back up. Otherwise, she had whatever distance that was available between the back of her vehicle and the one behind her. The narrative of the news reports makes it sound as if she did not initially have room to backup because they quote the trailing driver as saying he backed up to make room for her to back up. However, this does not prove that she actually lacked room to back up.
The news report describes unusually heavy traffic flow across the crossing, which could explain the reason why the driver stopped on the track. I cannot think of any other reason why a driver would intentionally stop on the track. If that was the reason, it follows that the vehicles were relatively close together as they crossed. If so, it would be probable the car behind the victim was relatively close when she stopped.
If the driver stopped on the crossing because the vehicle ahead of her stopped, I do not know when that vehicle ahead moved forward enough to give her room to move forward. I do know that once the driver got back into her vehicle, there was enough room ahead to pull onto the track.
I have no knowledge of whether her vehicle was clear of the fouling line of the track when she stopped on the crossing, nor do I know what the driver concluded about the answer to that question.
The news reports quote the driver behind the victim as saying that the descending gate “glanced” the victim’s vehicle. The term “glance” makes it seem as if the gate struck the victim’s vehicle in some relatively indirect manner. In describing a gate coming down on top of a vehicle, I would not use the term “glance” to refer to the contact. However, if the gate came down on top, but very near the rear end of the top, and then if the gate slid off the rear end of the top and dropped down further behind the vehicle; rubbing back of the vehicle as it dropped further; I might refer to that as a glancing action. Otherwise, I see no possible gate contact scenario that I would refer to as a “glance.”
If the gate “glance” did indeed result in the gate lowered behind the victim’s vehicle rather than on top of it, backing up would either be physically prevented by the gate, or the gate would be damaged in the backup move. If the gate was thus blocking the reverse move, I do not know what the driver concluded about the advisability of attempting to back up against the physical presence of the gate. She may have thought the gate would be strong enough to prevent backing up. She may have thought that such a move would damage her vehicle. She may have thought she might get into legal trouble for breaking the gate.
I have absolutely no knowledge that the driver decided to go forward instead of backing up because she did not know how to reverse her vehicle, or that she tried to reverse it, but was unable to, or that she once knew how to back up, but panicked and thus forgot how to back up. I also have no evidence that there was any mechanical problem that prevented her vehicle from backing up.
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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, March 29, 2015 10:23 AM
Here is an article that explores panic at grade crossings:
From the link:
 
Your car is trapped between the crossing gates, and a train is speeding down the tracks, its horn blaring, its lights blazing in your direction.
What do you do?
Hit the gas pedal and crash through the gate, or ditch your car and start running, experts say. And don’t waste any time deliberating over it.
Experts say that lack of awareness has led all too many times to hesitation, panic and death.
“Bash through the gates,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA New York. “They’re like breakaway gates. They’re usually wood or some sort of heavy foam material, and they’ll easily snap away.”
If the car is stalled or you can’t move it for any reason, abandon the vehicle and run, experts say. Many people make the fatal error of worrying about wrecking their car or trying to retrieve important items before escaping, Sinclair said.
------------------------------------------------------------
The “experts” are not at all clear on this point.  Operation Lifesaver says nothing about crashing through the gate in order to escape.
Even in this quote, the “experts” are ambiguous.  First they advise crashing through the gate—OR—ditch your car and run.  Later, they say that if your car is stalled or can’t move for any reason, abandon your car and run.  So which is it?  Bust the gate, or leave your vehicle on the track and run?
It should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense that drivers are going to naturally doubt the advisability of either option.  And the time consumed by that doubt will be critical.
Even the use of the term, “stall” in the expert language is ambiguous.  Generally the most common meaning is to stop because of vehicle failure such as an engine quitting.  But the term also refers to stopping such as might occur if the car ahead stops.  Since the “expert” language makes no distinction, the use of the term “stall” can mean pausing on the track because the car ahead has stopped, and expecting that the situation will last only a very short time, and then will clear.  Would any driver in their right mind jump out of their vehicle and run in such a short-lived “stall”? 
Would they flee their vehicle, and leave it on the track simply because of the short traffic pause even when the crossing signals are not activated and NO TRAIN is in sight?  That is what Operation Lifesaver advises.
This highly critical point would depend on the meaning of “stall” that is intended by Operation Lifesaver.   
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Posted by petitnj on Sunday, March 29, 2015 10:46 AM

This is one of the reasons that pilots, engineers, ship drivers... are trained for emergency situations. You need to react without thinking (sounds contradictory). Most folks freeze when they encounter an unusual condition and just make the situation worse. After repeated training, one just reacts and takes the proper action. How do we do this for grade crossings? Should we have the gates come down randomly and hope the driver keeps going? Should we have such a situation in an interactive training system? This is what makes accidents like this so difficult. You cannot train all the drivers to just keep going, smash thru the gate and even drive into the ditch. 

I have one reaction when I see something on the track: grab the big red handle and throw it to emergency. Even if the something is a box of Bud Light, the reaction is the same (yes a box of Bud Light!). No analysis necessary. Drivers have so many distractions and clues that it is very hard for them to see the real danger. And since they are not trained to react, they start the mental debate until something really happens. 

Any ideas? 

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, March 29, 2015 10:57 AM

I think a good starting point would be to give drivers the clearest signage and public information.  Pertaining to this North Metro crash, that would amount to clarifying the "Do not stop on tracks" sign and identifying the gates as being breakable in emergencies by Operation Lifesaver statements and by signage on the gates.

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, March 29, 2015 11:08 AM
Feb. 6 article at Lower Hudson Valley Journal News has a brief video of Mr. Hope describing the crucial moments. He backed up twice, before and after Mrs. Brody got out of her car.  
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Posted by BroadwayLion on Sunday, March 29, 2015 11:23 AM

petitnj
You need to react without thinking (sounds contradictory).

You are absolutely correct. I have an alzhimers patient who can walk just fine unles he is thinking about what he is doing, and then cannot put one foot in front of the other.

Walking is controled by reflex nerves and muscles, it does not take upper level function, but if you route the action through the upper level, it gets lost in there, and he cannot walk.

If hes is sitting in a chair, and I say "Come Here", he walks just fine. If I say "I want to see you walk a straight line", he cannot do it.

It takes a little training to make your reflexes work for you, if you must think something through, you may just use up all of the time you have left.

 

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, March 29, 2015 11:49 AM
From that article above posted by wanswheel:
“He [the driver behind the victim] said they were inching down the hill when the crossing gate, with its lights flashing, came down and hit the roof of the woman's car before sliding off and getting stuck on the back.”
 
We will never know for sure, but not wanting to bust through the gate as apparently would have been necessary for backing up strikes me as the most obvious reason why she went forward instead of backward. 
Also, the driver behind her said he motioned for her to back up and made room for her.  But he does not know if the victim saw his hand motions to back up because he had his headlights on and they may have prevented her from seeing his hand motion.
We also do not know if the driver behind her backed up while the victim was outside investigating the gate on her vehicle.  If the driver behind did back up at that time, it seems likely that the victim would have noticed that regardless of the receding car’s headlights being on.  But if she had gotten back into her vehicle before the driver behind began backing up, and if she had been prevented from seeing his hand motion, she may never have considered backing into the clear as being a possibility. 
 
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Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, March 29, 2015 4:46 PM

Sometime back there was an article, that reported abut the differences in the " Shifting Patterns' utilized by not only Domestic car makers, but differences in the 'shift patterns' utilized by foreign car makers, as well. Point being there was some discussion that the lady in the BMW in the Valhalla crash was a 'new' owner of her BMW, and there might have been some confusion on her part as to the position of the reverse position on her shift pattern(?)

Also this article in a Internet news source that states the following headline:                                     "Police ramp up rail-crossing citations after recent crashes"  By JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press (see linked)                                                                                                                        @ http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/03/29/3562204/police-ramp-up-rail-crossing-citations.html

FTA:[snip]'...The Federal Railroad Administration has called for police departments nationwide to add patrols and issue more citations as the first step in a safety campaign, and drivers in the New York suburbs are already seeing the results.

Police from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are issuing six times as many summonses as they did last year to drivers who go around gates, stop on the tracks or drive distracted at grade crossings on the Metro-North and Long Island commuter railroads, spokesman Aaron Donovan said..."[snipped]

One has to wonder how long this 'extra effort' wil last, and will it have a long term effect on the motoring public, in that area?

 


Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/03/29/3562204/police-ramp-up-rail-crossing-citations.html#storylink=cpy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, March 29, 2015 10:44 PM

edblysard wrote the following post yesterday:

Say it aint so...not a McLaren.....Wouldn't hurt so much is it was an Alfa.

Fortunately, it isn't anyone that I know in Jacksonville.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by edblysard on Monday, March 30, 2015 6:01 AM

That looks like a 650S....About $300,000.00 worth of carbon fiber sitting there.

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