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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-82-051
Details
Synopsis: ON MARCH 14, 1982, A PRIVATELY OWNED SOUTHBOUND FORD VAN WAS STRUCK BY AN EASTBOUND COMMUTER PASSENGER TRAIN AT A RAIL ROAD/HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSING ON HERRICKS ROAD AND THE MAIN LINE OF THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD IN MINEOLA, NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK. THE FORD VAN, OCCUPIED BY A TEENAGE DRIVER AND NINE TEENAGE PASSENGERS, HAD BEEN DRIVEN AROUND A PROPERLY FUNCTIONING LOWERED GATE WITH FLASHING LIGHTS ONTO THE CROSSING. FOLLOWING THE IMPACT, A MINOR FIRE WAS IGNITED IN THE VAN'S MOTOR COMPARTMENT. THE FIRE WAS QUICKLY EXTINGUISHED BY A LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENT. NINE OF THE VAN OCCUPANTS WERE KILLED AND ONE PASSENGER WAS CRITICALLY INJURED. THERE WERE NO REPORTED INJURIES TO THE PASSENGERS OR CREW ABOARD THE COMMUTER TRAIN.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: IN COORDINATION WITH THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS, STUDY THE PROBLEM PRESENTED BY THE LACK OF A STANDARD DISTANCE GAP BETWEEN THE END OF CROSSING GATES AND THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD OR MEDIAN, AND ESTABLISH AND INCORPORATE SUCH A STANDARD INTO THE MANUAL ON UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Mineola, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA82AH004
Accident Reports: ‚ÄčLong Island Railroad, Commuter Train / Ford Van Collision
Report #: RHR-82-02
Accident Date: 3/14/1982
Issue Date: 10/27/1982
Date Closed: 1/11/1985
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 1/11/1985
Response:

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 3/19/1984
Response: FHWA LETTER: THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION, THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE ON UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES, AND THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS STUDIED THE PROBLEM AND CONCLUDED THAT THE ISSUE OF DISTANCE GAP BETWEEN THE END OF CROSSING GATES AND THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD COULD BEST BE ADDRESSED IN THE TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES HANDBOOK (TCDH). THE TCDH CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION CONCERNING LENGTH OF GATE ARMS: ON TWO-WAY STREETS, THE GATES SHOULD COVER ENOUGH OF THE APPROACH ROADWAY TO PHYSICALLY BLOCK THE MOTORIST FROM DRIVING AROUND THE GATE WITHOUT GOING INTO THE OPPOSING TRAFFIC LANE. ON MULTILANE DIVIDED HIGHWAYS, AN OPENING OF APPROXIMATELY 6 FEET MAY BE PROVIDED FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES. THE LENGTH OF THE GATE ARM EXTENSION IS LIMITED BY WEIGHT OF THE MATERIALS USED AND SHOULD BE LIMITED TO 38 FEET ACCORDING TO THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILORADS (AAR). HOWEVER, WOOD GATE ARMS CAN HAVE A MAXIMUM EFFECTIVE LENGTH OF 42 FEET (44 FEET TOTAL); WHILE FIBERGLASS AND ALUMINUM GATE ARMS HAVE A MAXIMUM EFFECTIVE LENGTH OF 38 FEET. TO INCREASE NIGHT VISIBILITY OF THE BARRICADE, THREE RED LIGHTS ARE PLACED ON THE GATE ARM. THE LIGHT NEAREST TO THE TIP BURNS STEADILY WHILE THE OTHER TWO FLASH ALTERNATELY. SOME STATES REQUIRE ONE LIGHT PER TRAFFIC LANE PLUS THE TIP LIGHT. THE LENS IS THE SAME COLOR RED AS THE FLASHING LIGHT SIGNAL. GIVEN THE MAXIMUM EFFECTIVE LENGTH OF THE GATE ARM OF 42 FEET, TO OBTAIN FULL LANE COVERAGE IT MAY BE NECESSARY TO PLACE GATE ASSEMBLIES IN THE MEDIAN. IN THESE CASES CRASH CUSHIONS MAY BE DESIRABLE. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD SIGNALS OR GATE ASSEMBLIES BE PLACED IN AN UNPROTECTED PAINTED MEDIAN. (TCDH, SECTION 8B-2, PAGES 8-31, 32).