Driver, Possibly Distracted by Loud Music, Collides with Train on Connecticut Commuter Rail Line


file0001218797190.jpgA loud car radio reportedly contributed to a fatal collision between an automobile and a train on the Danbury line, by rendering the driver unable to hear the warning bells. One passenger died in the collision, and the driver died several days later. Two more passengers suffered injuries. The rail crossing where the crash occurred has been the site of multiple collisions. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) decided to expedite the installation of gates at the crossing as a result of the crash.

At about 1:20 p.m. on December 30, 2012, a Metro North train collided with a vehicle at the Long Ridge Road crossing in Redding, Connecticut. The vehicle, a Subaru Outback, was headed south on Long Ridge Road. The engineer of the train was seated on the right-hand side of the locomotive, and the car was approaching from his left, out of his line of sight. He therefore never saw the car coming and did not apply the brakes. An event recorder on the train showed that it was traveling at about the speed limit of fifty miles per hour.

The train collided with the Outback as it was crossing the tracks. It pushed the car about fifty yards until the car rolled down an embankment. The train stopped after another two hundred yards, and its two occupants, the engineer and a conductor, reportedly went to the wrecked vehicle on foot. The engineer said that the car’s radio was playing “very loud” when he arrived. All four occupants of the vehicle were taken to Danbury hospital. A twenty-one year-old passenger was pronounced dead that day, and the nineteen year-old driver died in the hospital on January 4, 2013.