The Waldo County Sherriff’s office is currently investigating a railroad crossing accident that happened in Winterport’s Meadow Road. Police say a female driver of a Hyundai Elantra was driving across the tracks when a Central Maine and Quebec Railway train slammed into the rear of her vehicle, spinning the car around.
The driver of the Elantra, whose name has not yet been released, was taken to Bangor’s Eastern Maine Medical Center for medical treatment. Eyewitnesses say that the victim, who looked to be in her thirties, appeared to have escaped without serious injury, though she was understandably shaken up by the accident.
Recent Winterport railroad crossing accident
The train accident was reported to authorities around 2:30 PM last Tuesday, and has stoked local concern about the safety of this particular Maine railroad crossing. Meadow Road is a rural route which has only recently been paved. Though there isn’t heavy traffic in the area, residents believe that the posted speed limit of 45 mph should be decreased, especially near the crossing.
One Meadow Road resident, Dana Edwards, told the Bangor Daily News he’d like to see increased visibility, lower speed limits and enhanced safety measures at the railroad crossing, stating that trains and vehicles travel too fast through the juncture.
“My whole question — is that crossing being properly maintained by the railroad? I just think it should be lighted,” Edwards told reporters. “I know you can’t light every crossing in the state. But I think it should be lighted with one of those guards that come down, or better signed or something. I just think someone needs to look at it, and make sure they’re doing everything they can to prevent something from happening.”
Investigations underway by railway
One thing is for certain – the railroad crossing accident could have been much worse, and resulted in severe injuries or even death had the Elantra’s driver been even seconds slower getting off the tracks. Jennifer Bricker, another eyewitness on the scene, told reporters that she noticed an empty child’s car seat in the back of the crumpled Elantra. After the accident, pieces of the vehicle’s back end were actually stuck to the locomotive.
Waldo County deputies will be investigating the accident with the help of information from the train’s black box, which logs crucial information about the speed of the locomotive and whether brakes were applied just seconds before impact.
This is the first time authorities have responded to a train-vehicle accident at the Winterport crossing in 25 years, and while it resulted in only minor injuries, it may spark efforts to tighten up safety.
Questionable safety of US passenger rail services
For many years, train services throughout Western Europe have featured automatic safety systems that alert conductors when they are speeding, then activating brakes to prevent a crash. Though statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration indicate that derailments and train accident rates in the U.S. are down (a 15.5 drop in 2011-2014), the risk of dying in a train accident is nearly double in America than it is in Europe. The hope is that more passenger rails in the United States will be outfitted with Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) to help prevent accidents caused by poor signaling and human error.
In the event that you or someone you love suffered injury or property damage at a railroad crossing in Bangor, Lewiston or Portland, contact Hardy, Wolf & Downing for a free consultation with a trusted Maine accident lawyer. Our legal team leverages more than four decades of experience handling train and motor vehicle accident claims.