(Knoxville, Tennessee – February 7, 2014)
The obscured, dangerous and unguarded crossing of Buchanan Avenue and Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks near the street’s intersection with North Broadway in the northern part of Knoxville, TN was the site of another non-fatal injury accident Friday morning at about 7:22 A.M. when an as-yet unnamed male motorist failed to see an oncoming train hidden from his view by trackside buildings.
The crossing, which, even though obscured on all four quadrants by either commercial buildings or heavy tree foliage, has only passive railroad cross-buck signs to notify drivers that railroad tracks cross there, but no active signalization which, and only if properly operating, could give motorists warning of trains approaching the crossing. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver know 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 can gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
The Federal Railroad Administration says is an average of 14 daily freight trains that can operate at speeds as high as 50 mph through that rail corridor. The FRA records also indicate that Friday’s near tragedy was the seventh accident occurring and fifth injury suffered at the road/rail intersection.
The driver was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a significant head injury after his Mitsubishi Eclipse was struck on the rear passenger side, spun around, and deposited, with heavy damage, in a trackside ditch. The impact from the train also caused the vehicle to knock down one of the passive cross-buck signs.