Railfan.net Home Railfan Photos ABPR Archives Staff Safari Photos Railfan Links

Railfan.net Forums Railfan.net Forums Railfan.net Forums
Welcome, Guest. Please Sign In or Register. Jan 20th, 2018, 12:13am
Categories •  FastIndex •  LongIndex •  Help •  Search •  Members  •  Sign In •  Register


Trainmen Are Victims, Too, When Fatalities Occur
   Railfan.net Web Forums
   The Mainline
   Rail Safety
(Moderators: prostock19, CP8673, , Pyronova, cn2220, BNSF_1088)
   Trainmen Are Victims, Too, When Fatalities Occur
« Previous topic | Next topic »
Pages: 1  ReplyReply     EMail TopicEMail Topic   PrintPrint
   Author  Topic: Trainmen Are Victims, Too, When Fatalities Occur  (Read 742 times)
BNSF_1088
Moderator
Historian
Posts: 6029
Trainmen Are Victims, Too, When Fatalities Occur
 
« on: Apr 7th, 2006, 11:31am »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occur  
Ken Michel shuddered when he heard about the grisly deaths of the bridegroom-to-be and his companion, according to the Bergen, N.J., Record.  
Both men were killed Monday when a Susquehanna & Western locomotive rammed their landscaping truck at an Oakland railroad crossing.  
 
By now, somewhere in Washington, D.C., an entry in a Federal Railroad Administration safety log marks this event in dry numerals:  
 
2 truck-train victims: NJ, 4/3/2006.  
 
But Michel knows the math is incomplete.  
 
"The two guys in the truck weren't the only victims," he said. "You've got to count the engineer and the conductors, too."  
 
A CSX Corp. train engineer for 32 years, Michel speaks from bitter experience. From January to June 1980, he was at the helm when his train was involved in six vehicular or pedestrian accidents -- three within two weeks.  
 
"Almost all were fatal," he recalled. "It's like somebody put a gun in your hand and forced you to pull the trigger. You have no control, yet you're the one who did it."  
 
The engineer, New Jersey legislative chairman for the 800-member Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, suffers from the same post-traumatic stress disorder endured by war veterans. In one case in Newark, he remembers seeing the face of the victim as the man walked across the tracks.  
 
"Just before I hit him, he turned and looked at me," he said. "It doesn't take much to bring these memories back."  
 
He recalled a colleague who was constantly reminded of his crash every time he passed the accident site because "nobody removed the bumper of the car from the side of the track."  
 
Michel estimates that engineers and crew members see a crash every 18 to 24 months, usually at crossings. This is the sort of unofficial statistic that is seldom mentioned in discussions of rail-crossing fatalities.  
 
They're considered rare events when counted in fatalities per million train miles. By this measure, deaths fell 3.5 percent last year. Safety experts blame driver or pedestrian misjudgment for the great majority of these crashes -- not engineers.  
 
Monday's deaths of Philip Salvatoriello and Anthony Cuccio marked the first in 33 years at the un-gated Edison Avenue crossing in Oakland. They were the third and fourth rail fatalities in Bergen County since 2003.  
 
It also was the first day on the job for Cuccio, 25, who was engaged to be married. Police say Salvatoriello, the 22-year-old driver, saw the oncoming locomotive, but gunned the truck in an effort to beat the train to the crossing.  
 
"Most trains need more than a mile to stop if traveling 60 mph or more," according to the New Jersey Driver Manual published by the state Motor Vehicle Commission.  
 
It's a statistic that engineers know well. "But many drivers don't know it," said Michel.  
 
He knows this from grim observation. His work site is a North Bergen rail yard where five sets of tracks cross 69th Street between Tonnelle and West Side avenues. When a train approaches, bells ring, lights flash and gates drop on either side of the tracks. The distance between the gates is nearly 200 feet.  
 
"People late for work or an appointment sometimes cross after the gates go down," he said.  
 
He has seen enough close calls and turned faces to haunt his waking hours. "I see cars flying by with kids in the back with eyes as big as saucers," he said.  
 
Why would a driver, especially a parent, take such a huge chance? Michel, an active member of a rail and law-enforcement safety group called Operation Lifesaver, has two theories.  
 
"Many of the trains that drivers see are going 2 to 10 miles an hour on local switching tracks," he said, "so they're sure they can get across in time. But two of the tracks carry main-line, 40-mile-an-hour trains."  
 
A motorist might beat the local, but disaster awaits if the slow-moving train obscures the advance of a much faster locomotive, he said. "Many people who cross multiple tracks don't have a clue about what's going on at a crossing," he said.  
 
Which brings him to his second theory: "Drivers need more training about crossings."  
 
Each of the four 50-question driving tests given by the MVC includes one rail safety question. The 104-page manual contains four paragraphs on the subject. Michel says the MVC should do more to train drivers "who are in too big a hurry to be inconvenienced by approaching trains."  
 
For example, he believes the agency should emphasize real-life road conditions by asking about a situation he often sees: What do you do if a gate descends while you're crossing a track?  
 
Signs at rail grades offer the answer: "Do Not Stop At Crossing." So does the driver's manual: "Always finish crossing railroad tracks. Do not stop."  
 
"But I still see drivers slow down and stop," said Michel.  
 
They cover all demographics.  
 
"They're young drivers and old drivers," said the engineer. "They're experienced drivers with commercial licenses. And they're from every ethnic background."  
 
Michel has even seen violations of 39:4-128, the motor vehicle statute requiring drivers of commercial buses, school buses and tractor-trailers carrying flammable material to stop at all rail crossings before proceeding.  
 
What needs to be done?  
 
The veteran engineer suggests stronger high school driver education, more emphasis on grade crossings in the manual and public service messages and a speaker's bureau to take the message to young people and their parents.  
 
Yes, grade-crossing fatalities are falling without all this. But as long as preventable deaths continue, why not listen to a guy with a front-row seat to recklessness, carelessness and ignorance?  
 
(This item appeared in the Record April 7, 2006.)
 
April 7, 2006  


« Last Edit: Jan 7th, 2008, 6:38pm by anthonyd_SRR » Logged

BNSF Conductor

Director of
Save Our Trains Michigan


green_elite_cab
Historian
Posts: 1212
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occ
 
« Reply #1 on: Apr 7th, 2006, 8:37pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

wow, i couldn't agree more with the more education on railroads.  i just finished my drivers ed stuff, and finished that MVC test mentioned before.   i need to get out to driving school soon.  
 
anyway, there are only 2 questions on the railroad crossing i remember, and one was which signs says there is a railroad,  and how far away you have to park from the tracks.   very little was talked about actual rail safety.  i can't say the teacher knew much either.    
 
most of the focus was the kids getting worked up over what the difference was between the crossbucks and the regular road sign was.   no one even knew that cross bucks were the name for the railroad  crossing sign.    
 
the entire the time the teacher was  like "i'm not really sure"   she pretty much expected us to have common sense and not get ourselves killed by a train.    there should be more on it.


Logged





ClydeDET
Historian
View Profile  

Posts: 4801
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occ
 
« Reply #2 on: Apr 8th, 2006, 3:51pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Biggest problem is that most drivers don't realize that there ain't no "Stop conductor" taht will do tehm any good. Cars stop quick, so trains should too, even if they have the right of way. Problem is - they can't. And don't, and as a friend of mine puts it - "Physics ALWAYS works", meaning that thousands of tons  (or even the 100 tons plus of a single locomotive running light) of mass of the train wil always "win" in a collision with a car that weighs a couple of tons, maybe three and a half if you are in a Suburban or Ford Expedition or some such.

Logged
MGtrainut
Railfan
Posts: 147
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occ
 
« Reply #3 on: Apr 9th, 2006, 4:47pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

I just gave a speech in my college speech class about RR crossing safety.  To prepare for the speech, we had to pass out surveys with questions about our topic, this was supposed to give us an idea of what the audience knew about the subject of the speech.  I was AMAZED at the ignorace of some of the people.  .  I had a 6 min time limit, but i could have taked for hours on every aspect of staying safe at grade crossings.  But i definitly agree.  Education is key.  People need to slow down as well.  When in a hurry, one's judgement is somtimes impared, and risks are taken that are not very intelligent.  Todays fast paced society certainly doesn't help matters either.

Logged

The Modern Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad.........WITHOUT CN!!
razor
Chaser
View Profile  

Posts: 51
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occ
 
« Reply #4 on: Apr 13th, 2006, 11:22pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Quote:
...engineers and crew members see a crash every 18 to 24 months, usually at crossings.

 
Yeah, we generally don't hit cars when they aren't crossing the tracks.  
 
-r


Logged
ClydeDET
Historian
View Profile  

Posts: 4801
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occ
 
« Reply #5 on: Apr 14th, 2006, 3:30pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

You mean the trains DON'T jump off the tracks and chase cars down the road, just to get a chance to run over one? How astonishing...

Logged
Mom_to_4YO_Railfan
Chaser
Posts: 73
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occ
 
« Reply #6 on: Apr 19th, 2006, 10:45am »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Hi!
As a mother, I completely sympathize with anyone who lost a family member who was racing the train.  However, I feel even worse for the engineer driving that train because there is not a darn thing they could do about it and they have to live with it too.  Based on the responses, it looks like there is a huge lacking in railroad education in the driver's ed classes.  Maybe they need to require new drivers to watch crash test videos of what happens when a car runs around the gates and is smashed by a train?  Maybe they need to take these people/kids that get caught trying to run the gates, put them in a cab of a loaded train, take their (or their parents car), and show them what happens when a freight going 60 mpg tries to stop and plows into it, I dont know.  I think it boils down to education.  They need to add a whole section to the driver's ed courses, and give much harsher penalties to people who run the gates, especially the ones that hit a train.


Logged

Christine, Mommy to Nick, future NS Engineer

Sippy cup? Check
Track snacks? Check
Now go catch that train Mommy!!!
razor
Chaser
View Profile  

Posts: 51
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occ
 
« Reply #7 on: Apr 19th, 2006, 2:43pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

on Apr 19th, 2006, 10:45am, Mom_to_3YO_Railfan wrote:       (Click here for original message)
However, I feel even worse for the engineer driving that train because there is not a darn thing they could do about it and they have to live with it too.

 
Hey..there is a whole crew on the train...and we all feel bad. It's pretty horrible. My worse fear is to get a car load of kids.
 
 
  Quote:
Based on the responses, it looks like there is a huge lacking in railroad education in the driver's ed classes.  Maybe they need to require new drivers to watch crash test videos of what happens when a car runs around the gates and is smashed by a train?
 
 
I have to admit, before I worked on the RR, I didn't give it much though. Probably a little education would have helped.  
 
If there was an 18,000 ton boulder rolling through the middle of town, ppl would get the hell out of the way. For some reason, a train does not elicit that type of response. Complacency I guess...
 
-r


Logged
Raven
TRAINing
Posts: 19
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occur
 
« Reply #8 on: Apr 16th, 2007, 2:31am »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Do any rail companies provide support for their employees involved in these traumatic experiences? I know some companies have an Employee Assistance Program that offers (usually) 3 free visits with a psychologist of the employee's choice, but that seems woefully insufficient for an engineer who has gone through one, let alone several, fatalities.

Logged
BNSF_1088
Moderator
Historian
Posts: 6029
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occur
 
« Reply #9 on: Jan 4th, 2008, 1:23pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

I am still messed up from an accident over 3 years ago when we hit a person on the tracks at 60 mph i no longer work for the Railroad and i still have flashbacks and nightmeres over the incident i am seeking help to try to solve this problem it drives me crazy 1 counsler thinks i will never be able to hold a job again i get nervios i shake i cant sleep you name it it has happened.
 
All of these symptoms started after the accident.


Logged

BNSF Conductor

Director of
Save Our Trains Michigan


Pennsy
Historian
View Profile  

Posts: 4586
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occur
 
« Reply #10 on: Jan 4th, 2008, 2:08pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Hi BNSF,
 
Most unfortunate. I have an acquaintance that is a Metrolink RR cop. He has told me about such situations. Some of the results of being the engineman or brakeman on such an accident is that they are permanently traumatized and require a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist to help evaluate and mitigate the "problems". Believe it or not, the situation is virtually identical to the survivors of Hitler's Holocaust. Extreme traumatization and the inability to function as a normal person. Not a very nice situation to find oneself. Best wishes for the future and a complete solution to the "problems".


« Last Edit: Jan 4th, 2008, 4:10pm by Pennsy » Logged

Dyed in the wool PRR fan.
ClydeDET
Historian
View Profile  

Posts: 4801
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occur
 
« Reply #11 on: Jan 5th, 2008, 12:34pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Flashbacks can take a long time to go away. I'm fortunate in that mine don't bother me that much, but i still, every now and then, re-live in a dream an incident from SEA where I shot an armed VC off a motor bike. He wasn't fast enough, i was. Wish that had never happened, but you just have to get on with life. Don't have any advice i think is much good BNSF, but DON'T try to take care of by crawling into a bottle. I've seen people try that. it doesn't work.

Logged
Gadfly
Railfan
Posts: 232
Re: Trainmen are victims, too, when fatalities occur
 
« Reply #12 on: Jan 5th, 2008, 10:12pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

 It's a horrible feeling to hit someone.  I witnessed this while deadheading on the Crescent aboard the 6900's.  Had one lady with kids in car seats to RACE us to an unprotected crossing and disappear UNDER the nose of the engine.  We missed her by scant INCHES.  Running 79 MPH, too!  It isn't uncommon for crews to be nervous wrecks when it happens several times in a row.  The cops and RR dicks are better at getting after people for fouling crossings these days, tho.  I am AMAZED at the people who think nothing of pulling up onto the tracks at a light and STOPPING! I've even had  car horns blown at ME because I refused to advance beyond the gates, they are in such a hurry.  
 
Sure, we all get aggravated when we get caught by a train, but it only takes a very FEW minutes for the train to clear up and we can proceed. It isn't worth dying for! OTH, it is quite a different perspective from high in the cab to watch someone in your headlight RACING headlong to beat you and you feel soooooooo utterly helpless to stop what you know is about to happen!
 
DON'T DO IT!!!
 
 
 
Gadfly


Logged
George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3833
Re: Trainmen Are Victims, Too, When Fatalities Occur
 
« Reply #13 on: Jun 4th, 2008, 7:13pm »
Quick-Jump   Reply w/Quote   Modify

Just today:  Two on the same trip.  Apparently the first car got away without fatalities, but not the second one.  Train 59 again.  Same train that hit the garbage truck last week.  Just hope for his sake that it is not the same engineer.  This guy (the engieer) really needs help and prayer.  Also the conductor.  Did not think of it until I talked to one, but it is usually the conductor that is first back to the point of collision and sees the body parts.  
 
http://clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080604/NEWS/80604046
 
Quote:
Multiple people were killed north of Hammond, Louisiana when Amtrak's City of New Orleans collided with a vehicle, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.
 
The train is still stopped near Independence, La.
 
Before the collision in Louisiana, there was a wreck between a car and the train in McComb. Magliari said there were no injuries from anyone aboard the train and the people in the car had non-life threatening injuries.
 
The train was delayed 37 minutes in McComb. The incidents were about 40 miles a part.

 
This is so recent there is not even a body count yet.
 
More recent information says two fatalities.  
Quote:
Dennis Pevey, the public information officer for Tangipahoa Parish, told WDSU NewsChannel 6 the car was traveling east on Anderson Road when the collision happened. Pevey said that witnesses heard the train blowing its whistle, but the car did not stop. Pevey said the train pushed the car about 285 feet before it came to a stop. Two people inside the car were declared dead at the scene.


« Last Edit: Jun 5th, 2008, 1:25pm by George_Harris » Logged
Pages: 1  ReplyReply     EMail TopicEMail Topic   PrintPrint

« Previous topic | Next topic »