On Sunday, July 28, 2019, an elderly man drove through a railroad crossing barrier and instantly collided with an Amtrak train in Newton, New Hampshire. A video of the incident shows that the driver of the car drove straight through the crossing barrier without stopping or slowing down. The man, whose name has not been released, was killed, and video footage of his car after the accident showed a mangled mess of glass and steel.
Amtrak trains have been clocked going 70 miles per hour through Newton, though it is not known how fast this particular Amtrak Downeaster train was going at the time of the accident. The Amtrak engineer thought he’d struck a deer, but stopped the train in Haverhill when he was alerted as to what had really happened. Newton police have seen other motorists, too impatient to slow down and stop when they see the crossing barriers lower at a railroad crossing, make their way around the barriers to cross the rail tracks.
One Newton official said
If you see the crossing, slow down. Wait. Wait till it’s clear and wait till the signal is all the way back up and complete your safe passage.
According to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, there are 443 miles of railroad lines in the state. New Hampshire law states:
Whenever any person driving a vehicle approaches a railroad grade crossing under any of the circumstances stated in this section, the driver of such vehicle shall stop within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of such railroad, and shall not proceed until he can do so safely. No person shall drive any vehicle through, around or under any crossing or barrier at a railroad crossing while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed.
New Hampshire’s chapter of Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people about railroad lines and crossings, states that every year people are killed or seriously injured with oncoming trains simply because they are unaware that trains cannot stop fast enough to avoid a collision. Operation Lifesaver believes in the three Es: education, enforcement, and engineering to keep people safe from train collisions. Operation Lifesaver began in 1972, which saw over 12,000 collisions between trains and motor vehicles. Thanks to its efforts, that number was down to a little over 2,000 collisions in 2014.
At Tenn And Tenn, P.A., we know how difficult these kinds of accidents are. If you were involved in an accident or collision with a train, contact our office to learn how we can help you and your unique circumstances.