The federal government has determined that a poorly designed grade crossing was a major factor in the fatal Amtrak crash that occurred in Mendon, Missouri in June 2022. According to a report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the steep slope of the road at the crossing made it difficult for the dump truck to accelerate through the crossing, even if it had come to a complete stop. The truck driver failed to stop at the stop sign and crossbucks, but the design of the crossing contributed to the collision.
It’s not surprising that the truck driver failed to stop at the crossing, given the poor visibility caused by the design of the grade crossing. The NTSB report also highlighted the fact that the crossing’s design made it difficult for drivers to see approaching trains and made it challenging for heavy trucks to come to a stop as required by Missouri law. This lack of visibility and the difficult road conditions clearly played a role in the tragic collision.
This report serves as a reminder that the safety of our road-rail intersections should be a top priority. It’s not enough to simply have a stop sign and crossbucks at these crossings; they must be designed in a way that ensures proper visibility for drivers. The NTSB Chair, Jennifer Homendy, pointed out that the safest rail grade crossing is no rail grade crossing at all, but if we are going to have them, they must be designed properly to prevent accidents like this from happening again.
The road grade was 13-times the recommended maximum slope.https://t.co/BAK9GjBAkM
— The Heartlander (@HeartlanderNews) August 3, 2023
Fortunately, Missouri officials, including Governor Mike Parson, are taking this issue seriously. They have allocated $60 million in the state’s budget specifically for railroad crossing safety. This funding is necessary to make the necessary improvements to grade crossings throughout the state and protect the lives of drivers and passengers. It’s encouraging to see proactive measures being taken to address this issue, and hopefully, other states will follow suit.
In conclusion, this tragic Amtrak crash was a result of both the truck driver’s failure to stop and the poor design of the grade crossing. It’s essential that we prioritize the safety of our road-rail intersections and invest in the necessary infrastructure improvements to prevent future accidents. Lives are at stake, and we cannot afford to ignore this issue any longer.