(Bowling Green, Kentucky – August 5, 2015)
A frequently-traveled Bowling Green, KY road crossing and heavily-used CSX railroad tracks suffered its second serious injury accident in 20 months Wednesday morning and folks who live around the Dillard Road/CSX intersection in the Warren County community are concerned about public safety there.
Benisa Mujkanovic, 20, barely survived the collision between her 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse and the train at the unguarded, oddly-angled grade crossing, and was airlifted to the Skyline Medical Center in Madison, TN after Bowling Green firefighters had extricated her vehicle after the train struck it on the passenger side and deposited into a field near the tracks.
“The crossing in question does have signage but no flashing lights for when a train is approaching,” reported Bowling Green WBKO-TV, Channel 13 ABC affiliate News’ Jake Boswell. “No word yet on if the equipment (?) was working properly. The crossing does not have arms that lower to block the crossing.”
“It’s the second time in under two years a driver had to be life-flighted from the same scene,” reported Boswell in a Thursday follow-up story. “In December 2013, a dump truck was pummeled by a train, bursting into flames,” the WBKO Reporter continued.
Pointing out that a few months before the 2013 accident, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced grants to upgrade safety devices at two other Warren County grade crossings, the Dillard Road/CSX one was left out, and “Neighbors living in the growing area near the crossing have a petition designed for politicians with plenty of signatures, but the state says it mainly looks at statistics,” the WBKO investigator found little urgency to address the problem by the state.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident would not have happened. Both CSX and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
Federal Railroad Administration statistics say that the crossing sees an average day’s rail traffic of 19 trains at a top authorized speed of 60 mph.
Although WBKO’s Boswell fielded the fears of several residents who live near and often use the crossing, he had to surmise that “Until the statistics come in, or the law is changed, the crossing will stay like it is, and drivers will have to use their sight as the only way to detect a train.”