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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation R-17-012
Synopsis: On February 3, 2015, at 6:26 p.m. eastern standard time, a 2011 Mercedes Benz ML350 sport-utility vehicle driven by a 49-year-old female, traveled northwest on Commerce Street in Valhalla, New York, toward a public highway-railroad grade crossing on the Harlem Subdivision of the Metro-North Railroad. Traffic on Commerce Street was heavy and congested when the driver entered the boundary of the highway-railroad grade crossing and stopped. The highway railroad grade crossing consisted of two highway lanes (one for each direction) and two railroad tracks, and was equipped with an active grade crossing warning system consisting of flashing lights and gates. After the driver entered the boundary of the highway railroad grade crossing, the warning system activated and the gates came down. About the same time, Metro North Railroad passenger train 659, consisting of eight passenger railcars, traveled north and approached the highway-railroad grade crossing at a speed of 59 miles per hour. The engineer from train 659 activated the train’s emergency brakes about 230 feet before the highway-railroad grade crossing and collided with the sport utility vehicle at a speed of 51 miles per hour. Metro-North Railroad estimated 645 passengers were onboard train 659 at the time of the accident. Five passengers died and 10 passengers were injured, all in the lead railcar. The driver of the sport-utility vehicle also died.
Recommendation: TO THE TOWN OF MOUNT PLEASANT, NEW YORK: Take action based on the results of your traffic study and the Federal Highway Administration’s August 2007 guidelines to improve grade crossing safety in the town of Mount Pleasant.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Await Response
Mode: Railroad
Location: Valhalla, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA15MR006
Accident Reports: ​Preliminary Report: Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing CollisionHighway-Railroad Grade Crossing Collision, Commerce Street, Valhalla, New York, February 3, 2015
Report #: RAR-17-01
Accident Date: 2/3/2015
Issue Date: 8/22/2017
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: State of New York, Town of Mount Pleasant (Open - Await Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: State of New York, Town of Mount Pleasant
Date: 8/22/2017
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation—railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline. We determine the probable cause of the accidents and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, we carry out special studies concerning transportation safety and coordinate the resources of the federal government and other organizations to provide assistance to victims and their family members affected by major transportation disasters. On July 25, 2017, the NTSB adopted its report Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Collision, Commerce Street, Valhalla, New York, February 3, 2015, RAR-17/01. The details of this accident investigation and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at Among the Safety Recommendations is one issued to the Town of Mount Pleasant, New York, which can be found on page 56 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in this recommendation because it is designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement this recommendation.