After a dramatic crash between a Fed Ex truck and a UTA FrontRunner train last week, UTA investigators announced that human error was to blame in the crash. According to KSL news, the crash happened on January 21, 2017, as a Fed Ex semi truck pulling two trailers was crossing a Frontrunner crossing in North Salt Lake City, Utah. The crossing arms were up when the truck crossed over and the train hit one of the last trailers on the semi. Luckily for all concerned, the train did not hit the cab of the Fed Ex truck. UTA’s chief safety and security officer Dave Goeres came clean and stated: “We have determined that the gates were raised by a UTA employee who responded to the scene, and the accident was caused by human error.”
According to the story, the arms had been stuck in the down position, prompting a UTA technician to come to the scene to fix the problem. However, under the proper protocol, the FrontRunner trains approaching a crossing that is being serviced are supposed to slow to 15 mph. That didn’t happen, as the video of the crash posted last week bears out. The UTA said it is reviewing its policies and plans to provide refresher training to its staff.
Legally speaking, this situation highlights a potential problem within the UTA with adequately training its employees to follow all safety guidelines when working on its equipment. In my mind, what happened in this situation is like a technician working on high voltage equipment without bothering to turn off the power. Luckily, no one was seriously injured, but if the train had hit the cab of the Fed Ex truck, I very likely would be talking about a fatality collision.
Sometimes we get second chances in life, and UTA has a chance to learn from this situation so something like this never happens again.
In the meantime, we should do as UTA recommends and to be aware of our surroundings when crossing a rail crossing and never cross when red lights are flashing and the arm is lowering or is lowered.