(Madison, Georgia – January 5, 2014)
A combination of crossing design and protective system errors led to the death of a Newton County, GA semi-truck driver Sunday evening when his truck tractor, with no trailer attached, became stuck at the dangerous, unguarded and questionably-designed crossing of Double Bridges Road and CSX railroad tracks in Morgan County, GA, near Madison, GA.
Richard “Rick” Furry, 49, was attempting to exit his stuck vehicle from a culvert at the crossing of Double Bridges Road, which first parallels the CSX tracks, then takes a 90 degree turn and narrows to a single lane to cross the tracks and then almost immediately intersects with the Dixie Highway, which parallels CSX tracks on the opposite side.
The victim was attempting to extricate his stuck vehicle as the train crew saw blasts of smoke coming from the tractor’s exhaust pipes moments before their train, traveling at 42 mph on 50 mph maximum allowable speed track, struck the truck tractor, killing the victim. Georgia State Patrol troopers investigating the tragedy were obviously given immediate access to the locomotive’s event recorder and nose video camera, as evidence from such items was used in the GSP’s accident report.
The Double Bridges Road/CSX crossing has no active protective system such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates, depending instead upon passive railroad cross-buck and highway “stop” signage, devices which cannot possibly give warning of approaching trains. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both CSX 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%.