(Van Dyne, Wisconsin – November 2, 2013)
The 63-year-old driver of a pickup truck received serious injuries Friday afternoon at about 1:45 P.M. when he was struck by a southbound CNR freight train while attempting to drive across the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Viaduct Road and Canadian National Railway tracks in the town of Van Dyne, WI.
The victim’s name was not released, but the fact that the CNR train struck his westbound vehicle on the passenger side probably saved his life, although he was transported by Flight for Life medical helicopter service to Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah,WI, where he was admitted in serious condition.
According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, “the railroad crossing is not marked by electronic warning signals or crossing arms. It is one of a handful of crossings in the county marked by a stop sign and crossbucks.” It is virtually certain that active protection, such as lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Canadian National 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%.
Yet, the non-signalized crossing sees the passage of an average of 38 trains daily at a top allowable speed of 60 mph. Passive signage has no capability whatsoever to give advance warning to motorists of the impending approach of oncoming trains at crossings such as these.
The crossing features a pair of widely-separated main tracks with heavy brush between the parallel pathways, as well as a third out-of-service track, with westbound motorists forced to negotiate a nearl-90 degree turn and limited visibility of approaching southbound trains as they drive aross.
Wisconsin State Patrol, Fon du Lac County agencies and CN Railroad Police all responded to the accident.