Partially obstructed view and other driver challenges at passive level crossing contributed to 2012 vehicle-train collision in Broadview, Saskatchewan

WINNIPEG, March 26, 2014 /CNW/ - Citing concerns that the risk of accidents at passive public railway crossings will continue in the absence of advance warning systems, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (R12W0182) into a fatal crossing accident in Broadview, Saskatchewan.

At 1835 Central Standard Time on 9 August 2012, a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train 205-09 was proceeding westward at 53 mph when it struck a southbound camper van at a passive public crossing, equipped only with standard reflectorized railway crossing signs (SRCS), near Broadview, Saskatchewan. As a result of the collision, the camper van was destroyed, 4 of the 6 vehicle occupants were fatally injured, the novice driver was seriously injured, and the supervising driver sustained minor injuries. The train crew was not injured, and the locomotive sustained minor damage.

The investigation determined that the train approached the crossing from the east with the locomotive headlights, ditch lights and horn all activated as required. The train and van approached the crossing on roughly parallel, albeit opposing, paths. Vegetation along the railway right-of-way limited the view of the van from the train crew and the train from the vehicle occupants. The collision occurred when the westbound van turned south onto Airport Road, approached the crossing, proceeded into the path of the train, and was struck broadside. A partially obstructed view, the position of the sun, the vehicle characteristics, the driver's limited experience with the risks associated in negotiating a passive public crossing protected solely by SRCS, and the fatigued state of the supervising driver likely contributed to the accident.

Over the last 10 years in Canada, there have been 658 accidents involving vehicles at passive public crossings, which resulted in 59 fatalities and 107 serious injuries. While the crossing was not equipped with a stop sign, studies have demonstrated that stop signs do not always provide an effective defence because compliance is subject to frequent enforcement. Research indicates that a key to improving safety is to equip these crossings with lower-cost advance active warning devices, such as those using GPS, magnetic flux and radar to detect approaching trains, in order to attract driver attention and provide them with advance warning of the need to stop.

Considering the serious consequences that can result from a crossing accident, and the technological advancements that have been made, the Board is concerned that, in the absence of timely implementation of low-cost alert systems, the risk of accidents at passive crossings will continue.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

SOURCE Transportation Safety Board of Canada

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