Railway Preservation News

partial OT: Utah frontrunner incident
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Author:  Trainlawyer [ Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: partial OT: Utah frontrunner incident


I have read the press release and as I read it the maintainer was not terminated because he caused the collision per se but because he failed to follow the proper procedures to insure protection of the crossing while he was working on the equipment.

If you can suspend reality for a moment imagine that same dash cam footage without the second FedEx truck. In that case we have the first truck, the one ahead of the police cruiser, clear the crossing and then the train slams through without hitting anything. The constable driving said cruiser slams on the brakes, then mutters an obscenity or two followed by "That thing almost hit us! Why didn't the gates come down?". His partner calls the radio desk to say they almost got knocked into Colorado because the gate didn't work and that they will be at the crossing with their lights flashing until the railroad gets someone out there and this gets figured out. Their dispatcher then calls the railroad. The railroad thinks "Something is wrong here - the report was that the gates were stuck down...". Meanwhile the engineer of the train which did not hit the police cruiser reports the failure of the gates to drop. Now there is a supervisor, probably more that one, involved and the result for the maintainer is the same - he failed to follow the proper protocols.

Back here in the real world not encumbered by alternate facts, the question of whether or not the FedEx truck was required to stop is not germane to the conduct of the maintainer. His failure to follow the proper procedures was an appropriate ground for termination even had there been no collision.

From where I sit (many hundreds of miles away) I can make a very good case for the truck driver. If you observe carefully from 0:02 to 0:12 you will see that the truck which was hit has its four-ways activated. This certainly implies a level of caution and possibly a safety stop as he approached. Looking at the overheads it appears that the crossing is right oblique, not perpendicular, requiring the driver to look over his right shoulder in order to see down the track. There was a snow/rain mixture falling which would have muted the train horn and impacted on visibility. Even with the maintainer's truck parked across the highway he had no reason to believe that the signal was out of service. The standard for the crossing signals is twenty to thirty seconds between the initial activation and the lead locomotive (or car) entering the crossing. The truck is seen already moving at 0:02 and impact is at 0:19/20 - 17/18 seconds. In the mind of a driver if the signals are not activated and the train has not sounded its horn there is time to cross. As it stands he apparently did have the time allotted by the regulation though just barely. That fact set can establish a reasonable belief on the part of the driver that even if he saw the train he had time to cross.

I would be happier, as I am sure the driver would if he had erred on the side of caution and waited. That, however does not make it his fault.


Author:  hotbox [ Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: partial OT: Utah frontrunner incident

According to the law which was posted earlier in this thread, the truck driver was required to look for trains and yield even if the signals were un-activated. Obviously the truck driver failed to do that, so why was the signal maintainer found at fault?

Whether the truck driver failed to look and yield cannot be determined from the video. The train was moving at 40 mph. The weather conditions and possibly other obstructions reduced visibility. It is unclear weather the truck driver could see the train. But more importantly.... re-read the law

(3) This section does not apply at a:
(a) railroad grade crossing where traffic is controlled by a peace officer or other crossing official;
(b) railroad grade crossing where traffic is regulated by a traffic-control signal;

The active warning system IS a traffic control signal

By disabling the lights and gates with out the proper procedure the maintainer took action that was very directly a violation of the law and his company rules. Had the maintainer NOT taken the action that he did, the crash would NOT have occurred.

Author:  Ron Travis [ Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: partial OT: Utah frontrunner incident

Self-moderated. Content deleted.

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