A 33-year-old mother in Diggins, Missouri was killed Friday as she attempted to cross a private railroad crossing in the area. The crossing is dangerous, containing no protective devices such as flashing lights and a protective gate, being outiftted instead with nothing but a stop sign.
The mother’s 8-year-old daughter survived the crash, but is currently listed as being in critical condition.
Two other passengers, siblings aged 15 and 16, were neighbors of the driver and were riding in the bed of the pickup truck. Yet according to them, they saw the oncoming train only by chance.
How could you not know a train was coming? Simple: this crossing is not fitted with any warning devices. Couple that with any number of issues – sight obstructions on the scene, caused by buildings or overggrown vegetation, and you have a setup for disaster.
At least one thing went critically wrong here: the train crew never sounded the train horn, according to witnesses.
"The train didn’t even blow a whistle, didn’t blow a horn or nothing," says Tim Boyden, father of the surviving teens and neighbor to the victim.
As hard as it is to stomach that this woman – and many of the other hundreds like her per year who are also killed in U.S. crossing accidents – was killed because of an unprotected crossing which could have easily been outiftted with lights and gates, it is a fact that we must try to digest. If ignored, the roughly two-thirds of all U.S. crossings which are currently unprotected as well may stay that way for a long, long time.
When a safety technology has existed for about a century, there is no excuse not to see its universal implmentation. We expect innovations in transportation safety to be implemented. If not right away, than within a reasonable amount of time. 100 years is well beyond reasonable. We expect it from our cars and roads, from our intersections and highways, and certainly from our airplanes. We shouldn’t be asked to be apologetic or understanding, then, when two-thirds of all U.S. crossings lack a bare minimum of safety. It’s likely not something that this injured 8-year-old will understand as she grows up missing her mother.