Driver Alleges Vehicle not on Railroad Tracks

| December 26, 2012 | 2 Comments | News

There have been three collisions with trains at the Lee Highway railroad crossing in just over a year. The driver of a Jeep SUV said there were a number of factors that led to her car being struck by a train last week. Credit: PotomacLocal.com

The woman whose Jeep SUV was struck by a Norfolk Southern train last week maintains that she was not at fault for the collision.

The railroad tracks on Lee Highway have been the cause of anxiety for drivers, three of whom were involved in collisions with trains in the past year.

The police report that on Wed. Dec. 19 at 6:47 p.m. a woman driving an SUV, stopped on the tracks and collided with a Norfolk Southern train, which shut down traffic for 2.5 hours.

Read original article here.

“The accused disregarded the signs and roadway markings and stopped on the tracks,” police spokesman Officer Dennis J. Jensen said. “The train was unable to stop and struck the rear of the car.”

However, the woman driving the Jeep SUV that was struck by the train commented on Bristow Beat, presenting a different account of the collision.

“I stopped in front of the tracks. I was waiting until I had enough room in front of me to clear the tracks before I crossed over. There were two cars behind me. The train sideswiped the front left side of the Jeep, not the rear,” said the driver, who did not want to be identified. “I was blindsided and never heard it coming with no warning at all from behind me to the left: no lights, horn, flashing lights, etc.”

In her post, the woman described the minor damage to the front of her vehicle and emphasized that there was no damage to the rear of her car as reported.

“The driver’s side door is perfect except my mirror is gone and damage to the front of the Jeep; the railway car appendages:  ladders, steps, etc. were tapping the Jeep as it passed,” she said. “The police described the damage to my car as ‘minor.’ The car would have been compacted and demolished, if I had been on the tracks.”

According to Jensen, the driver was cited for the accident and released on a summons.

“I signed a summons and it says on it, it is not an admission of guilt. I told the officer at the time, I was not on the tracks. If I had been, I would be dead,” she said. “Look at the pictures. The train is on the tracks. I am not.”

Furthermore, the driver said that there were a number of factors that contributed to the accident, including an unclear stopping zone, insufficient warning signs at the crossing, the distance between the crossing and the tracks and perhaps even a faulty signal.

“The only signs are, ‘Do not stop on the tracks’, which I did not and ‘Stop Here’ with an arrow pointing down at a line next to the lowering gate, when the lights are flashing; they weren’t flashing when I passed the sign in traffic with cars in front and behind me,” she said.

She cautioned that authorities need to investigate this crossing for improvements to avoid future accidents.

Highway improvements are being made a short distance down the highway at the intersection of Linton Hall Road and U.S. Route 29, which will include an overpass so trains will pass under the roadway. The Virginia Department of Transportation expects the $97 million dollar project to be completed by 2015.

© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Bristow JW says:

    Whether you were directly on the tracks, or not – it does not dismiss the fact that you were stopped in the marked no-stopping area (with plainly visible white diagonal stripes). Until you can completely cross this area, you are not to enter it. You didn’t see the lights because you passed them when you illegally entered the box.
    Your vehicle WAS hit (regardless of direct or side-swiped) by the train. You DID cause hours of traffic backup on major roadways. You ARE at fault.

  2. ihaveatwin says:

    The judge dismissed the charges against the driver stating no laws had been broken.

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