Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kansas train-related fatality rate stubbornly steady

February 19, 2012

Advertisement

This Union Pacific crossing is northeast of Lawrence and clearly marked. The rest of the country has seen dramatic drops in train fatalities in the past two decades, but Kansas’ numbers have remained steady, with about 16 fatalities per year.

This Union Pacific crossing is northeast of Lawrence and clearly marked. The rest of the country has seen dramatic drops in train fatalities in the past two decades, but Kansas’ numbers have remained steady, with about 16 fatalities per year.

Train accidents, by the numbers

Nonfatal accidents in Kansas in 2011: 232

• Fatal: 19

• Nonfatal accidents in the United States in 2011: 10,038

• Fatal: 644

Kansas counties with highest number of fatality train accidents since 1992:

• Johnson: 19

• Sedgwick: 16

• Shawnee: 16

• Butler: 15

• Sumner: 10

• Douglas: 9

Source: Federal Railroad Adminstration.

On a clear Friday afternoon last February, Kyle Snyder, 22, of Lecompton, hit the brakes on his pickup truck as he approached the railroad tracks on East 950 Road northwest of Lawrence.

Sliding on the snow-packed gravel road, Snyder’s truck couldn’t stop in time, and he was killed after colliding with a BNSF train chugging away at 50 mph. The crossing where the fatality occurred is identified by crossbuck signs but does not have flashing lights or gates.

Snyder’s death was the second train-related fatality in Douglas County in the past decade. In 2006 Jeannie NewMoon, 53, was struck and killed by a train while walking on the North Second Street overpass in North Lawrence.

Snyder would be one of 19 people killed by trains in Kansas through the first 11 months of 2011, according to statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration.

While the rest of the country has seen dramatic drops in train fatalities during the past 20 years — from 1,170 in 1992 to 644 in 2011 — Kansas’s numbers remain steady, about 16 per year. Douglas County has nine fatalities over than time, and Johnson County leads the state with 19.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why the Kansas numbers haven’t dropped.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” said Darlene Osterhaus, director of the train-safety organization Kansas Operation Lifesaver. Since joining the organization in 2006, Osterhaus has helped coordinate hundreds of workshops across the state to increase awareness of the dangers of trains.

The two types of incidents that are not related to a train malfunction or derailment are categorized as crossing collisions, such as Snyder’s crash, and trespass incidents, when someone is struck by a train as he or she walks on the tracks, such as in NewMoon’s case.

In addition to education and trainings, adding gates and lights to intersections can help reduce incidents and fatalities, Osterhaus said, but that’s not always enough.

Some drivers will drive around gates, or, if road conditions are hazardous, might slide through intersections. Nearly 50 percent of collisions occur at intersections equipped with gates or other warning devices, she said. In Snyder’s collision, where he tried to stop but slid, gates or lights may not have made a difference.

In Kansas, about 65 percent of the roughly 5,200 train crossings are equipped only with stop signs or “crossbucks,” the white X sign with “railroad crossing” written on them, said Mitch Sothers, engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation. Sothers helps install other warning devices, paid for with federal money. But the funding is limited, and Sothers said KDOT is only able to add warning devices to about 50 train crossings per year.

Marmie Edwards, spokeswoman for the national branch of Operation Lifesaver, said the percentage of train crossings with warning devices varies by state, from 20 percent to 50 percent. But it wouldn’t be economically feasible to place devices at all crossings nationwide, she said.

When it comes to those killed when walking on train tracks, it’s not clear how many are suicides, Edwards said, as those statistics historically were not kept. In Kansas, trespass deaths account for about a quarter of train-related fatalities.

In the nonsuicide cases, Edwards said a lack of safety awareness comes from a public perception of slow moving trains blowing their whistles and flowing through small towns at 30 or 40 mph. But with time, trains have sped up, and in a state like Kansas, they move through frequently, she said.

“The public hasn’t caught up with that,” she said. “There’s still a ways to go.”

Comments

Horsewagled 2 years, 1 month ago

http://www.ksdot.org/burProgProjMgmt/... OK Mitch I figured out your codes. FLTSG ---Flashing Light Signals. I search the entire 4 year plan and the little search fairy shows 37 projects. My 6th grade math comes up with 9.25 crossings a year not 50 as you stated. Now how many of these 37 projects already had crossing lights a level 7 protection (Gates being level 8)? Then how many of the level 7 lights we already had paid for were moved to crossings like = Crossing ID005878X= on E 950 road? Or Mitch did you let the railroad steal our signals???

0

Horsewagled 2 years, 1 month ago

Mitch are you signing off on these projects with overcharges to choke a horse a 12 year old could see? $13,000 just to get the equipment there ---Labor charged as equipment ---Labor charged 3 different places. Power poles that the power company installs ---Think amount it Mitch ---What RR crossing hasn't been designed that the railroad doesn't just pull the drawings out of a file cabinet and change the street/RR names. Then you let the railroads steal the equipment we paid for on closed/reworked projects Mitch. why is that MITCH??? http://www.cityoflewisville.com/main/citycouncil/agendas2010/ca09202010Backup.pdf 6’ x 8’ STEEL BUNGALOW, with GCP UNIT and SEARII Reporting Unit, with Modules & Program required to control warning devices as shown, Chargers & Battery necs., etc $ 54,217.00 FLASHER & GATE SIGNALS, with 12” LED Lights, All Aluminum Gate Arms, LED Gate Lights, Signs, Bells, with any side lights as per State Specifications. $21,316.00 SIGNAL GROUND MATERIAL, Foundations, Underground Wire & Cable, Guard Rails, Multi Shunt Boxes at approaches, Track Connectors, Bond Wires, wiring materials, etc. $ 21,677.00 Freight Charges $ 4,361.00 10% Material Contingency Fee $ 9,721.00 PROJECT MATERIAL, Cover Rock or Fill Material necessary, 220 Volt AC Service Pole, Directional Boring with 4” PVC Pipe as determined by Railroad, etc. $ 34,000.00 MATERIAL SUB TOTAL = $ 145,292.00

KCS LABOR with Additives, all Signal Dept. Personnel required for Administration, and for Field Installation, testing and cut-over as directed by the Signal Engineer. 12d $ 40,777.00 EQUIPMENT CHARGES, for Signal Dept Pickup Trucks, Backhoes, Boom Trucks, etc. $ 12,285.00

KCS PERSONAL EXPENSES, for all Signal Dept Personnel $ 6,230.00 CONTRACT ENGINEERING, for Layout Design, Quote Plans, Material Lists, Layout Plans & Estimate, Shop Wiring & Field Construction Plans as directed by the RR (JaKay) $ 17,500.00 CONTRACT ACCOUNTING, Project Cost Tracking System through the life of the project, Completion Reports and assist Accounting with Final Billing preperation. (BHS) $ 5,000.00 UTILITY COORDINATION, arrangements for new electrical service, relocation of utilities, arrange for rock & fill material, project coordination as directed by the RR (JaKay) $ 3,500.00 FIELD INSTALLATION CONTRACTOR, to provide equipment & personnel as required by the KCSR Field Installation Bid Request package for the signal installation. NO CHARGE LABOR SUB TOTAL = $ 85 ,292.00 TOTAL $ 230,584.00

0

angels 2 years, 1 month ago

January 20, 2004 U.S. Court of Appeals - 3rd Circuit Stroyzyk v. Norfolk Southern 02-3957

Federal law DOES NOT preempt railroad companies from liability for limited sight lines and failure to maintain safe grade crossings. "A railroad must exercise ordinary care at a crossing by adopting a reasonably safe and effective method, commensurate with the dangers of a particular crossing, of warning travelers of the approach of a train."

0

LJ Whirled 2 years, 1 month ago

Railroads are immune under Federal law from suits for failure to properly mark rural crossings. It is cheaper to buy Congressmen than to buy lights and crossbars.

0

Elizabeth Stancliffe 2 years, 1 month ago

Well, if the fatality rate in Kansas is higher than other states, obviously Kansas is doing something wrong. What are the other states doing that we are not? The answer to the problem is there.

0

angels 2 years, 1 month ago

While the story had to go back 20 years to show a decrease in train fatalities, according to Operation Lifesaver's own publication, "Sunflower State Signal, Vol. 27, No. 1 (2nd Qtr. 2011) the FRA stats show vehicle train collisions for (2010) in the U.S. were up 4.2 percent , crossing deaths up 5.3 percent, and crossing injuries up 9.8 percent from 2009. Through KDOT's own admission, more than half of the crossings in KS have "minimal" signage, no protection devices. The issue of funding gate installations (with TAXPAYER state/fed monies) would be a non-issue if railroad companies paid their fair share, especially since they know gates have been proven to be 3 x more effective than crossbucks, 8 x more effective than stop signs in preventing grade-crossing accidents. If railroads/OLI are truly interested in saving lives, why don't they promote gates? Could it be because they don't want the added costs for maintenance, or liability if gates/lights aren't working. It's much easier to blame the driver at a passive crossing, where the "failure to yield" mantra can be cited.

0

Horsewagled 2 years, 1 month ago

http://www.bnsf.com/media/speeches/pdf/railroader_of_the_year.pdf Matt Rose CEO BNSF statement @ yearly railroad rapers tea party. """...The best example that I can give you is the positive train control mandate--a $10 billion expenditure by 2015. The cost benefit ratio is 22:1....""" Somebody help me with the math here? I always thought knowingly allowing some one to be killed/injured would be negligent homicide so I never did any cost benefit ratios. Would the divisor into the the $10 billion mentioned by the BNSF railroad CEO be 22 making/saving BNSF railroad over $9.5 billion by not saving lives/injuries with proper safety equipment? Or would the divisor into the the $10 billion mentioned by the BNSF railroad CEO be 23 making/saving BNSF railroad over $9.5 billion by not saving lives/injuries with proper safety equipment? I wouldn't want the poor railroad to cost themselves $20 million or so.

$454,545,454.54 $434,782,608.69 Then one might think how does a railroad come up with the numbers for a ""' ...cost benefit ratio is 22:1....""" for safety equipment? Do they have like a list up on a wall ---This train wreck killing 3 and costing X # of $$$s for damages could have been prevented with PTC and take add this list list up for a period of time coming up with the $454,545,454.54 ---$434,782,608.69 range?

0

Flap Doodle 2 years, 1 month ago

This award-winning website seems to have attracted another single-issue crusader.

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeoman: Just thought of a problem with my 5:57 post; would require the train tracks to cross US 24/40 once and US 24/59 once and maybe something to do with the Lawrence Airport. Never mind!!!

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeoman: Thank for the update! You mentioned the complaints from residents of North Lawrence and the train whistles. Not much need for the tracks to run through N.L. anymore, except FMC/Westvaco or whatever it is now. Didn't the U.P. consider cutting off that part of the track and bulid a shunt from the Mud Creek area to Midland Junction. I'm sure it would be an expensive proposition, but would eliminate some of the problem going through N.L. The section as it now exists has been in many fatalities including the 4 that died at Laptad crossing about 20 years ago. What became of the idea!

0

catfishturkeyhunter 2 years, 1 month ago

Friend of mine who works for the Fire Department said there is a train on the tracks crossing hwy 68 between Ottawa and Pomona every 15 minutes

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeoman2 or anybody with the know! How many trains travel BNSF through Lawrence each day???, I know Amtrak one each way, some locals, what about over the road trains?? Also, how many trains per day on UP tracks in North Lawrence??

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like that particular crossing has some inherent problems that would not be resolved by crossing lights or barriers. Also, there used to be a road crossing of the Santa Fe tracks just east of Lakeview, the road was closed years ago when the Cameron Bluffs (Lawrence KPL) power plant expanded. Anyway, the road crossing was straight but where the tracks crossed, they were on a curve. Early one morning (dark) I almost "bought my lunch" there, no train whistle, and train light shined out into a corn field. Scared the crap out me, as a result I look carefully at any crossing! Driver beware, you will not win a battle with a locomotive!

0

gccs14r 2 years, 1 month ago

The real problem is at-grade crossings. If vehicle traffic were diverted vertically to pass either over or under the tracks, there would be no collisions.

0

adamm 2 years, 1 month ago

In addition to the school bus not being able to stop, we also spoke to a neighbor that said he slid through the crossing last winter in his tractor because his tractor wouldn't stop. I myself have slide through the crossing a few years ago because I had a trailer and a skidloader behind my truck and the gravel was loose and I just slide. The tracks were what finally caught me. If a train would have been coming it would have been too late for me. The hill is steep enough that when I go south up the hill I have to use four wheel drive to climb it if I have a trailer on behind my truck becuase if not my truck just spins the tires trying to climb it due to the steepness of it. A flashing light at the top of the hill telling you a train is coming would even be sufficient enough to warn you not to start down the hill because a train is coming. I agree that people try and out run trains and go around barracades but when it comes to a very steep hill that is hard to slow down on dry conditions let alone icy conditions, and the extremely low visibility of what is coming down the tracks, I believe something needs to be done. Two friends of ours work for railroad companies and both have said that the crossing is extremely dangerous and they have helped us out in the process of getting lights put up. The crossing 1/2 mile down from this one has lights and cross arms and it is on a flat stretch of road with good visibility so I would hope the railroad would understand why a dangerous crossing 1/2 mile down deserves them.

0

catfishturkeyhunter 2 years, 1 month ago

I would say its rather simple. Stop and look both ways before crossing. I don't gamble with trains or rail road crossings. You will probably win most the time, but the one time you lose, you will lose big time. I see people running the gates on HWY 68 between Ottawa and Pomona all the time.

0

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 1 month ago

These comments are very interesting to someone who has been associated with rail operations for most of my life.

First. Railroad companies are businesses who have to operate to make a profit, to move customer's goods safely and on time. They are not government supported and in the past hvae ecnountered heavy losses from poor operational proceedures. They do not have huge profits to install active grade crossing protection at every country road and driveway. And if they did, then why are there still many accidents at crossings that are flashing light protected?

The main problem is a human failing. People who are always in a nhurry, people who have their earphones ramped up to top volume, people who have to have their little electronic gadgets running at full throttle at all times and are not paying attention to their surroundings and direction. You see them everywhere, running, driving a car, walking down the sidewalk in a hazy stupor from their divided attention.

In short this is not a railroad company's problem, although all American railroads participate in Operation Lifesaver in an attempt to save lives of stupid people. But there is simply no fix for stupid. And in closing (applause here) I recall several photos published in this newspaper, one featuring two yyoung people dressed in wedding cloths cavorting on a railroad track. I recall someone on this forum (rightfully) took them to task for this incredibly stuipd idea.

A moving train is a very large vehicle. I have no suggestions for people who are so completely disassociated with their situation that they cannot see and hear one.

0

adamm 2 years, 1 month ago

I live on E950, 1/2 mile from where synder was hit. When you come down the hill before the crossing, you can't see the crossing at all because the road curves and has trees that hang over it. Once you can see the tracks you have a short distance where the road flattens out then it is a very steep hill straight down to the tracks. When coming down the steep part you can only see 100 feet of the track or so because of the large banks on both sides blocking your view. You have to get within 20 feet of the track before you can see around the dirt bank and the trees to look for a train. The day snyder was hit, the road was a pure sheet of ice. He would have had no idea a train was coming as he was probably aready sliding down the hill trying to stop. The road makes an immediate 90 degree turn after the tracks so you have to stop to turn anyways. 2 weeks prior to synders accident, the perry-lecompton school bus drive that drives the route that passes that crossing which my son used to ride, informed me that she slid all the way through the crossing a few days prior because the road was slick and she couldn't stop and that she hates the hill and the crossing. I'm sure people would have gotten things changed if it was a school bus full of kids that got hit due to not being able to stop. If the crossing had lights you could see that a train was coming when you are on the flat part of the hill before the crossing and you would have time to stop and wait for it to go by instead of trying to stop on a hill that is EXTREMELY steep. Everyone we have contacted in effort to gets lights wants to blame every other circumstance but the fact that the hill and the crossing combined are extremely dangerous and a crossing needs to be installed before it becomes a front page article reading Perry-Lecompton school bus is struck by BNSF train.

0

FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

Ride the T. If it is hit you should have a better chance of survival.

0

blindrabbit 2 years, 1 month ago

I'll bet the addition of flashing lights and crossbuck guards at crossings far exceeds the cost of traffic circles (which seems to be the whipping boy of everyone). Would have to run electrical for lights and perhaps air or hydraulics for the crossguards. Tough to do at every crossing as you propose since many of these crossings are in very remote, rural areas with no electrical approximate. Drivers just need to be more cautious. Regardless of right-away and tresspass, trains win these battles, not cars and/or pedrestrians. Also, it is apparent that many car/train accidents occur because drivers ignored the operating warnings and crossbucks.

0

Clickker 2 years, 1 month ago

It seems like a rather simple thing to do is to add flashing lights at all train intersections. The cost in lives is worth it. Just dumb not to have those.

0

Clickker 2 years, 1 month ago

It seems like a rather simple thing to do is to add flashing lights at all train intersections. The cost in lives is worth it. Just dumb not to have those.

0

ddayot 2 years, 1 month ago

Your guess is as good as mine,” said Darlene Osterhaus, director of the train-safety organization Kansas Operation Lifesaver. Since joining the organization in 2006............well keep up the great work Darlene. Seems like six years and you've got it all figured out!

0

sierraclub 2 years, 1 month ago

Why not blame this on Bush? Or the Koch Brothers?

0

Horsewagled 2 years, 1 month ago

"""Sothers helps install other warning devices, paid for with federal money. But the funding is limited, and Sothers said KDOT is only able to add warning devices to about 50 train crossings per year."""

Question for Mitch Sothers, engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation. http://www.ksdot.org/burProgProjMgmt/STIP/stip0912/stiphome0912.asp Kansas gets $6,158,571 a year from the Feds and the state matches 10 %.

In your 4 year pig latin state transportation plan I see little on railroads. Nothing with the DOT assigned crossing numbers the projects are supposed to be listed under. Being a gentleman and scholar you should have no problem listing the 200 crossings you all fixed up with the tax-payers $26 million or so the last 4 years would you? http://www.ksdot.org/burProgProjMgmt/STIP/stip0912/stiphome0912.asp

Now tell the truth Mitch ---you let the railroads do all the work and charge US whatever they want now don't you?

0

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

I knew Jeannie NewMoon, although I did not know her well.

The coverage in this article does not seem to coincide with the coverage in the August 16, 2006 edition of the LJWorld.com.

In this article it is stated that "In 2006 Jeannie NewMoon, 53, was struck and killed by a train while walking on the North Second Street overpass in North Lawrence."

But in August 16, 2006, it was stated "Railroad officials said it happened as she appeared to be trying to remove something from the train tracks."

and

"Sunshine NewMoon and another sister, Albertta, said they'd been told by police that a railroad employee saw NewMoon trying to remove a bicycle that was stuck on the tracks."

From my recollections of conversations with friends about her death, she was crossing the train tracks with a friend, and both of them were walking their bicycles. Her bicycle somehow got stuck in the train tracks, and she struggled to remove it. But she struggled with it too long, and was hit and killed by the train.

0

Horsewagled 2 years, 1 month ago

Just wondering if Marmie Edwards, spokeswoman for the national branch of Operation Lifesaver and Darlene Osterhaus, director of the train-safety organization Kansas Operation Lifesaver have read the New York Times take on OLI? Sure sounds like that paper has you pegged.

"""Osterhaus has helped coordinate hundreds of workshops across the state to increase awareness of the dangers of trains."" Is there a list of these workshops? Only time I see OLI rear their heads is to call out the evil doer drivers and dirty rotten trespassers following the railroads mass trail of death and destruction. A booth at the state fair counting everyone that enters isn't really railroad safety is it Darlene Osterhaus? http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/national/14rail.html Safety Group Closely Echoes Rail Industry """..But documents show that the organization is tightly bound to the railroad industry, and critics, including many accident victims, say the group's message serves another agenda: to inoculate the railroads against liability in grade-crossing collisions.."""

0

Horsewagled 2 years, 1 month ago

We're reading icy roads and seeing all kinds of sight obstructions here but Congress is seeing

= Crossing ID005878X= On Feb 04, 2011 a FREIGHT TRAIN operated by BNSF Rwy Co. [BNSF] hit a PICKUP TRUCK at approximately 12:05PM in Kansas in DOUGLAS county on E 950 road. The incident was not in a city or town. The rail equipment was reported to have been traveling at 053 Mph with 3 locomotive(s) and 47 cars(s). The PICKUP TRUCK had been traveling in a northerly direction at 002 Mph. The railroad was operating on main line track over a public road crossing. It was clear, during the day and the temperature was 30. There were 1 death(s) and 0 injured in this incident and a Railroad Injury/Illness Report (form FRA-55a) was also filed. The 22 year old male driver was moving on the crossing and was reported to have not stopped. There were 1 occupant(s) in the vehicle. The view of the track was not obstructed. The railroad was transporting hazardous material. The crossing was protected by: Crossbucks

0

Horsewagled 2 years, 1 month ago

Google Map and zoom in on 1970 East 950 Road Lawrence United States

http://csx-sucks.com/SiteDist.pdf. Take this sight triangle chart that must go with the POS cross buck railroad signs for them to be legal and tell me where the man slaughter charges on the STATE,FEDS,COUNTY,STATE,RAILROAD and especially the LIP SERVICE OPERATION LIFESAVER phonies are.

Also please remove all the character slamming trespassing statements and replace with pedestrians ran down like dogs by greedy railroads.---By state law they weren't trespassing till a court says so.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.