Tag Archives: NTSB

Valhalla, NY: No NTSB final report two years after fatal accident

7 Feb

Two years on from a level crossing accident that took six lives and injured 15, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has still to publish a final report with a definitive set of recommendations. In response to this scenario, local, state and federal representatives have pushed for the NTSB report to be released sooner rather than later. In response, an NTSB spokesperson has suggested spring 2017 when the wider world will hear further from NTSB.

LX info’s Aidan Nelson says “two years after an accident is surely long enough for any accident investigation body to publish a final report and recommendations therein to prevent a recurrence. Indeed, except in exceptional circumstances, 12 months should be the norm.  Where there are exceptional circumstances extending the timescale beyond one year, investigation bodies should be required to publish a report setting out the exceptional circumstances which are extending the timetable for the investigation as well as interim conclusions so far determined and recommendations resulting from these interim conclusions”.


Hicksville, NY: Aircraft crashes onto level crossing

19 Aug

A light aircraft crashed onto the South Oyster Bay Road level crossing of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in Hicksville at about 07.45am on August 16th, 2015. In the minutes leading to the crash that killed him and critically injured his passenger, the pilot was being helped to reach an airfield where he could make an emergency landing. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating this accident. The LIRR was able to restore services before Monday morning’s commute.

Oxnard, CA: NTSB issues preliminary report

23 Mar

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report of its investigation into the fatal collision of a train with a truck stranded on the railway adjacent to a level crossing in Oxnard.

The collision occurred at about 05.44 am on February 24th, 2015 when a Metrolink commuter train carrying 46 passengers and 3 crew members collided with an unoccupied utility service truck towing a two-axle utility trailer. The collision occurred about 25 metres from a level crossing on South Rice Avenue. The train driver died 7 days after being injured, and 31 passengers and 2 crew sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious.

Prior to the impact, the driver of the truck was traveling south on South Rice Avenue, approaching the intersection of East 5th Street onto which he intended to make aright turn. However, approximately 17 metres before the highway intersection, the driver of the truck encountered an automatic crossing equipped with lights, barriers, warning signs and pavement markings. Instead of turning right at the highway intersection, the truck driver turned right onto the railway.

The truck was driven along the railway in a westerly direction for about 25 metres at which point it became stuck straddling the most southerly rail. Subsequently the level crossing activated for an approaching train and, at some point, the truck driver jumped clear of his cab and left the scene of the ensuing collision.

The train was being driven by a trainee under the supervision of an experienced driver As the train approached the South Rice Avenue level crossing, the trainee driver began to sound the train horn as required, approximately 400 metres before the train arrived at the level crossing at which point a collision occurred.

A post-collision fire ensued on the pavement of the level crossing, in which the  trailer was partially consumed by the fire. A portion of the  trailer came to rest next to the level crossing; and most of the truck was carried eastward along the track, where remnants of the vehicle came to rest on the south side of the track bed. During the collision sequence, all four of the train’s cars derailed, three of which overturned and came to rest on their sides. The locomotive at the rear of the train did not derail.


Valhalla, NY: NTSB issues preliminary report

25 Feb

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report on the crash between a Metro-North passenger train and a SUV in Valhalla on February 3rd, 2015 in which five passengers and the driver of the SUV were killed.

The NTSB report states that the SUV was stopped with the rear of the vehicle in line with a level crossing barrier while the crossing closure sequence automatically lowered the barrier which struck the SUV. The NTSB says that this led to the motorist to leave her vehicle in order to look at the rear where it had been struck by the lowering barrier. The NTSB further states that the woman then returned to her vehicle and moved it forward at which point it was struck by a train travelling at 58 mph when an emergency brake application was initiated about 90 metres before the crossing slowing the train to 49 mph at the point of impact

The north bound train pushed the eastbound SUV about 200 metres along the track. As result of the collision the traction current third rail detached from its mountings, pierced the SUV and entered the leading vehicle through the floor. In total 12 sections of the third rail, each 12 metres long were found inside the leading vehicle.

Metro-North has estimated the material damage from the crash alone amounts to be USD3.7 million.


Rosedale, MD: NTSB report includes wide-ranging recommendations

3 Nov

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published its report into the May 28th, 2013 collision on  private passive level crossing in Rosedale, Maryland. The collision occurred at about 13.59 when a three axle truck crossed into the path of a freight train running on the CSX Transportation (CSX) right-of-way. The truck did not stop and was hit by a CSX train formed of  two locomotives, 31 empty cars, and 14 loaded cars. The train was running at a recorded speed of 49 mph. As the train approached the crossing, the train horn sounded three times. The collision caused the truck to rotate and overturn The first 15 cars of the 45-car train derailed as a consequence of the collision.


Three of the 15 rail cars (cars 7, 8, and 15) contained hazardous materials. The seventh car (loaded with sodium chlorate crystal)—and the ninth through twelfth cars (loaded with terephthalic acid)—released their products. Following the derailment, a postcrash fire resulted in an explosion at 14.04. The overpressure blast from the explosion shattered windows and damaged property as far as approximately 0.5 miles from the site. The fire remained confined to the derailed train cars. The truck driver was seriously injured in the collision. Three workers in a building adjacent to the railway and a Maryland Transportation Authority police officer who responded to the initial incident received minor injuries as a result of the explosion.

The NTSB has determined the probable cause of the collision was the truck driver’s failure to ensure that the tracks were clear before traversing the level crossing. Contributing to the crash were:

  • The truck driver’s distraction due to a hands-free cell phone conversation;
  • The limited sight distance due to vegetation and roadway curvature
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) inadequate oversight of the truck’s operator, which allowed the new entrant motor carrier to continue operations despite a serious and consistent pattern of safety deficiencies.

Contributing to the severity of the damage was the post-crash fire and the resulting explosion of a rail car carrying sodium chlorate, an oxidiser.

The crash investigation focused on the following safety issues:

  • Distraction due to hands-free cell phone use.
  • FMCSA oversight of new entrant motor carriers.
  • Systems to prevent drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea from being granted unrestricted medical certification.
  • Systems to address safety at private highway–railroad grade crossings.
  • Proximity of oxidizing and flammable or combustible materials in a train

Recommendations arising from this NTSB investigation are as follows:

  • To the state of Maryland: 
    • Work with CSX Transportation Company and private landowners to conduct engineering studies of the accident grade crossing (140833J) and the three other private highway–railroad grade crossings (140831V, 140828M, and 140829U) evaluated in this investigation, and take actions to improve their safety, such as removing visual obstructions, installing signage, and altering roadway geometry. (R-14-51)
  • To the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico: 
    • Enact legislation adopting all elements of the Federal Railroad Administration’s model law known as the “Adequate Sight Distance at Passive Highway–Rail Grade Crossings Act.” (R-14-50)
  • To the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: 
    • Modify Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 392.82 to prohibit any use of a hands-free portable electronic device by a commercial driver’s license holder while the driver is operating a commercial vehicle, except in emergencies. (H-14-26)
    • Require a full compliance review of new entrants that fail their safety audits, fail their corrective action plans, or are issued expedited action letters. (H-14-27)
    • Establish criteria for revoking the certification of any new entrant that demonstrates a pattern of safety deficiencies. (H-14-28)
    • Develop a system whereby the authority responsible for issuing commercial driver medical certification will be notified when Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration investigators discover violations that could result in a driver’s medical disqualification. (H-14-29)
  • To the Federal Railroad Administration: 
    • Require equivalent levels of reporting for both public and private highway-railroad grade crossings. (R-14-48)
    • Develop an algorithm using grade crossing inventory and accident history data to provide annual crash prediction estimates for private highway–railroad grade crossings, similar to your WBAPS tool for public grade crossings, and make the results easily accessible to states, railroads, and the public. (R-14-49)
  • To the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association: 
    • Develop and disseminate to your members a model program for railroads to (1) evaluate the safety of private highway–railroad grade crossings in their territories, including identifying visibility obstructions and other factors that increase the risk of grade crossing collisions; and (2) work with landowners and communities to mitigate that risk. (R-14-52)
  • To the National Fire Protection Association: 
    • Notify your members of the circumstances of the Rosedale, Maryland, crash and advise them of the potential sudden and catastrophic consequences when oxidizing materials are exposed to heat or to combustible or flammable materials. (R-14-53)
  • To CSX Transportation Company: 
    • Assist the state of Maryland in taking actions identified by the state to improve the safety of the accident grade crossing (140833J) and the three other private highway–railroad grade crossings (140831V, 140828M, and 140829U) evaluated in this investigation. (R-14-54)
    • Until the improvements cited in Safety Recommendation R-14-54 are made, take action to reduce the risk of grade crossing accidents through the corridor comprising highway–railroad grade crossings 140833J, 140831V, 140828M, and 140829U. (R-14-55)

The NTSB also reiterated the following safety recommendations:

  • To the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: 
    • Require all new motor carriers seeking operating authority to demonstrate their safety fitness prior to obtaining new entrant operating authority by, at a minimum: (1) passing an examination demonstrating their knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations; (2) submitting a comprehensive plan documenting that the motor carrier has management systems in place to ensure compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations; and (3) passing a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration safety audit, including vehicle inspections. (H-03-2)
    • As a component of your new entrant safety audits, review with each new entrant motor carrier a structured process, such as the Safety Management Cycle, to (1) identify the root cause of safety risks and (2) maintain an effective safety assurance program. (H-12-31)
  • To the 50 states and the District of Columbia: 
    • (1) Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers; (2) use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high visibility enforcement to support these bans; and (3) implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement, and to warn them of the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving. (H-11-39)

The full report can be found at: http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2014/HAR1402.pdf

Baltimore, Maryland: NTSB issues Preliminary report

13 Jun

NTSB investigators examine the damaged truck. Source NTSB

NTSB investigators examine the damaged truck. Source NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report arising from its investigation of the collision of a train and truck in Glendale, Maryland, on May 28th, 2013. As with all NTSB preliminary reports, the Board points out that information contained therein as the investigation proceeds to a conclusion at a later date.

The 68th Street passive level crossing at which the accident occurred was marked with cross-buck signs and “non-standard” stop signs (yellow). The paint on both stop signs had faded significantly, and both had been displaced from their original mountings. The stop sign that should have been regulating traffic moving northbound hung upside down facing away from the roadway. The driver did not stop at the level crossing and attempted to cross both tracks.

As the truck moved into the crossing, a CSX freight train traveling westbound at 49 miles per hour, struck the truck on the right side in the area of the rear axle. The train consisted of two locomotives, 15 empty cars, and 30 loaded cars, four of which contained hazardous materials, including sodium chlorate. The impact caused the first 15 cars of the train to derail. The seventh car—loaded with sodium chlorate—and the ninth through twelfth cars—loaded with terephthalic acid—released their products. Following the derailment, a post-crash fire ensued, which resulted in a subsequent explosion. The overpressure blast from the explosion shattered windows and damaged siding on buildings as far as one mile away. The fire remained confined to the derailed rail cars.

As a result of the collision, the driver of the roll-off truck received serious injuries and was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The explosion and fire caused minor injuries to a police officer who responded to the initial incident and two individuals working at a building adjacent to the railway; a third worker received serious injuries.

Washington, DC: NTSB releases Texas collision documentation

29 May

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a large number of documents relating to the level crossing collision that killed four people in Midland, Texas on November 15th, 2012. The collision with a parade float also seriously injured five of those travelling on the parade float.

The documents released are factual and do not provide any analysis of the causes of the collision. These documents include photographs, interview transcripts and other documents relevant to the on-going NTSB investigation. If you want to access the publicly available docket go to: http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/2012/midland_tx/midland_tx.html.

The NTSB analysis of the accident, along with its conclusions and a determination of probable cause as well as a final report will follow.