A van collided with a Tide light-rail train at Brambleton Avenue and 2nd Street in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), on August 17, 2001, when he turned right in front of the light-rail train despite the presence of a “No Right Turn Across Tracks Sign.” The Virginian-Pilot report on the incident noted the crash was the third for the commuter trains and the second incident at that particular intersection.
The van’s driver, a 70-year-old resident of Virginia Beach complained of shoulder pain after the collision and was cited for disregarding the signals. Luckily, the driver of the light-rail train was not injured, and there were no passengers aboard.
Earlier in August, a car clipped a train, causing no injuries but smashing off the left front quarter of The Tide vehicle. In June, a bicyclist collided with the side of a train at a crossing near the corner of York and Botetourt streets.
These Virginia train accidents are stark reminders for trains to sound audible signals or provide large written warnings at train tracks so drivers can yield the right of way, and for drivers to pay attention to signals so not only their lives, but the lives of train passengers and conductors, won’t be put at risk. Serious brain and spinal cord injuries, and death, may result from train crashes.
The excitement about our new Norfolk light rail is great. However, it completely changes the traffic rules and flow where the new tracks run. The traffic engineers need to really study what is needed to effectively warn cars and bikes about the new risks and hazards. At this point, the mistakes made by pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists are not necessarily their fault, but the growing pains of a new system which catches people in confusing traps leading to collisions.
To learn more about what to do when you or a loved one gets hurt in a train accident, watch our videos on locomotive safety.