December 16, 2017

Truck-Train Crashes

A recent Transportation Safety Board investigation states that a 2015 deadly collision between an ambulance and train involved several factors including use of a cell phone. The investigation cited a mix of unclear railway crossing signals, faded road markings, and the ambulance driver using a cellphone as factors causing a deadly crash.

The accident occurred September 11, 2015 when a freight train struck an ambulance at a railway cross at 216th Street and Glover Road in Vancouver, Canada.

The patient in the ambulance was an 87-year-old woman who was airlifted to a nearby hospital but later died. There were two paramedics from the ambulance who were injured, while the crew on the train had no injuries. The Board cited privilege in not releasing contents from the phone call.

Reportedly, the ambulance was trying to make a left turn but stopped on one set tracks once a crossing gate lowered on the opposite lane and appeared to be blocking the ambulance’s path forward. However, according to the investigation, the lowered gate would not have blocked the ambulance from driving forward and off the railroad tracks it was on. An intersection shortly after the crossing could have caused confusion as well.

“These lights are designed to stay briefly green despite an approaching train in order to flush any remaining traffic from the interesection,” Harris said. “Add to this the faded roadway markings, specifically the left turn lane, which likely helped bring the ambulance in proximity to the [crossing].”

There have been three other incidents at this rail crossing in before this accident. This particular crossing had been identified by Transport Canada as a crossing of high concern. But railways and road authorities had been given a five year grace period to implement new safety standards.

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