(Upper Macungie Township, Pennsylvania – July 4, 2014)
About 2 ½ years ago, at the dark, dangerous and unguarded crossing of Norfolk Southern Railway tracks and Ruppsville Road in Lehigh County, PA, an unfortunate motorist collided with the side of a train he neither heard nor saw coming, resulting in near-total destruction of his vehicle and his admission to a local hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
That accident occurred three minutes before midnight on February 6, 2012 at the crossing which then, as well as in four previous collisions occurring there, was not equipped with flashing lights or gates, which could warn motorists of the impending train.
In the early morning hours of Friday, July 4, 2014, history repeated itself as Alton Murray, 36, of Easton, PA, drove into the side of a Norfolk Southern locomotive pulling a train he never saw nor heard. Once again, the collision resulted in heavy, if not total, damage to his vehicle and a trip to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest where, two days later, he was still being given in-patient care for his injuries.
It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this tragedy. Both Norfolk Southern 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 and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%
According to Federal Railroad Administration-catalogued records, there is a daily average of the passage of four trains at a maximum allowable speed of 25 mph and the crossing sees almost 250 highway vehicles per day at an identical speed limit of 25 mph.