(Marked Tree, Arkansas – July 25, 2014)
The unidentified driver of an 18-wheeler loaded with rolls of paper is “lucky to be alive” according to Poinsett County, AR Sheriff Larry Mills after the rig the man was driving was struck and virtually destroyed by a BNSF freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Lock and Dam Road (CR C-66) and BNSF railroad tracks just north of Marked Tree, AR Friday afternoon at about 3:30 P.M. CDT.
The crossing, which lacks any active warning devices such as flashing lights, bells and gates which certainly would have given the trucker advance notice of the oncoming train he probably never saw, is notorious for crossing collisions. Friday’s accident was the seventh collision to occur there, with the previous six having resulted in a total of six injuries incurred at the intersection. The crossing, according to Federal Railroad Administration documents, sees the average daily passage of 29 BNSF freight trains at a top allowable speed of 60 mph.
It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates, this accident and likely the seven preceding accidents could have been prevented. Both BNSF 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%