Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

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radioman2001
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by radioman2001 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:14 pm

The only safety device that came out of this accident (BTW I lived in Hawthorne for nearly 30 years and there was never any accidents at Commerce other than what has been reported here) is what is called a pre-exemption on the traffic light to allow traffic to exit the area by a forced green light on Commerce St at the crossing before train gets to that crossing. I see it work every morning as I go by and this is used at other crossings as well. Recently at Reader Digest Rd creating a traffic mess, and there are also cameras and sensors to detect cars on the tracks, Virginia Rd also has this.
The whole reason you cannot close Commerce St is there is no way for commercial traffic to cross onto the West side of the tracks without going about 2 miles out of the way through a residential area up and down a large hill then onto on lousy twisty winding road that goes past 2 schools.
One cannot be expected to understand why this person decided to sit on the tracks, but you can see that when you are trying to exit an area that was congested due to an accident as this can happen.

DutchRailnut
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by DutchRailnut » Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:30 pm

The pre-empt requirement has been in effect for over a decade , it was not a result of Valhalla crash but a School Bus crash is 1995 I believe. (date corrected).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995_Fox_ ... _collision" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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ExCon90
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by ExCon90 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:57 pm

I think it's unfortunate that the NTSB didn't take the opportunity to point out the importance for motorists of not proceeding onto a crossing in the first place unless there is room for their vehicle on the opposite side. I think this is part of the vehicle code in many states--I don't know about Illinois, but something along those lines should certainly have been among their many recommendations.

LastStopValhalla
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by LastStopValhalla » Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:07 pm

I believe the NTSB addressed this issue throughout the investigation and in its reports. This statement was part of the opening remarks of Chairman Robert Sumwalt at the July 25, 2017 hearing:

"To quote from Operation Lifesaver: "Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides."

It doesn't matter how clear the tracks look. There is never a reason to stop your car within a grade crossing boundary, either on or off the track itself. And certainly, no driver should ever enter or remain within a grade crossing once the warning system activates. Those crossing gates can usually be broken through with your car.

The next train is always coming. It's just a matter of when."
Michael Sheehy
Fire Science & Safety Studies
Firefighter - ICS 300 - New York State Incident Safety Officer - Principles of Fire Investigation
Research Project LAST STOP VALHALLA, a study of "high severity, low frequency" incidents.

justalurker66
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by justalurker66 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:11 pm

radioman2001 wrote:The only safety device that came out of this accident (BTW I lived in Hawthorne for nearly 30 years and there was never any accidents at Commerce other than what has been reported here) is what is called a pre-exemption on the traffic light to allow traffic to exit the area by a forced green light on Commerce St at the crossing before train gets to that crossing.
Based on the investigation documents, the intersection had pre-emption at the time of the accident (there are pages and pages of technical documents showing how the traffic light was programmed). The programming has been adjusted ... perhaps what you are seeing now is due to the improvements made in the programming. (The preemption from the railroad was not set as the highest level of preemptive activity at the intersection.)

Head-end View
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by Head-end View » Fri Apr 26, 2019 7:17 pm

The question of not stopping your vehicle on a crossing gets a little more complicated in the case of a longer diagonal crossing like this one. As you approach, you have to have this uppermost in your mind and think ahead a greater distance than at perpendicular crossing. It's easy to see how a driver not familiar with the location, in the impatience of a commute home from work, and caught up in a traffic jam from a detour could easily fail to see the situation developing in front of them and find themselves stopped on the crossing without intending to.

I'm not defending the actions of the driver who was killed, just pointing out how easily this could happen to any driver, given the right set of circumstances. Kind of a perfect storm. It just shows how carefully we need to pay attention to our driving, especially in unusual circumstances like a frustrating detour.

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