A collision between a commuter train and an automobile in Connecticut in late December may have resulted, at least partly, from distracted driving, according to witnesses at the scene. The accident resulted in the deaths of the car’s driver and one passenger. Railroad officials stated that loud music in the car may have been a factor. Distracted driving can include not only cell phone use, but also music, eating, or other distractions that keep the driver from fully focusing on the road.
At about 1:20 p.m. on Sunday, December 30, 2012, a Subaru collided with a train after failing to stop at a railroad crossing on Long Ridge Road in Redding, Connecticut. The car’s driver and three passengers were taken to a nearby hospital. One of the passengers was pronounced dead the same day. The driver died of her injuries on January 8, 2013. The other two passengers suffered leg injuries and were still receiving treatment as of January 8. The train was not carrying passengers, and only a conductor and an engineer were on board at the time of the crash. Neither suffered injuries.
The warning system at the railroad crossing consists of bells and flashing lights. According to railroad officials, the system was activated for twenty seconds before the train crossed the road, as required by law. The crossing does not have gates that lower to block cars from crossing. An “event recorder” on the train reportedly confirmed that, prior to the collision, the engineer blew the train’s whistle and sounded warning bells. The train was reportedly traveling at the speed limit of fifty miles per hour. The engineer, who was sitting on the left side of the engine, could not see the Subaru, which was approaching from the north. For this reason, according to a railroad official, he did not apply the brakes before the crash.
The engineer stopped the train after the crash and ran to check on the people in the Subaru. He later told investigators that the vehicle’s radio was still playing at a high volume when he got to it. For this reason, investigators suspected that the driver might not have heard the warning signals for the train crossing
This particular railroad crossing, near the West Redding train station, has been the site of three collisions between automobiles and trains since 1989. This was the first with fatalities. The road reportedly has several curves that make it difficult for drivers to see if a train is coming, making the audible warning signals very important. Residents of the area have stated that they want gates installed, which might be effective at preventing future crashes. The state senator for the area sent a letter to the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the railroad company requesting that it apply money for a railroad improvement project to this crossing, citing the December 30 accident. Now that officials are aware of the potential danger, they have a duty to take reasonable steps to remedy the known hazards of the area.
Auto accident attorney Doug Horn is an advocate for safe driving in the greater Kansas City area. He represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to the negligent or illegal conduct of others. Contact us today online or at (816) 795-7500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.