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Airbags- steadily increasing in density and weight. Lighter objects such as humans will be cushioned by an actual cushion of air (with exhaust in the rear like Hollywood stunt airbags they jump from high places and land on). The concept is whether it is a 100 lb. woman or a 2-ton truck, it will stop at some point, with the least amount of impact possible. If the train hit the 100 pound woman at 20 miles a hour, she may only get through layer A. If she got hit at 60 however, she may go all the way to layer C, whereas a 2 ton truck would be guaranteed to make it to layer D; irregardless, final layers of airbags prevent actual contact with the locomotive. If they are spun around up to the side of the locomotive, side panels on locomotive prevent the vehicle from being thrown up under train. Like bumpers on a bumper car, vehicle is thrown back away.
Other electronic options in mind in conjunction with work being done by Operation Lifesaver would bring train safety closer to the 21st century.
High-intensity red and white strobes and fire-engine style lighting and engine horns will make people think a UFO is coming down the tracks. Although noise may be a issue at some locations with horns, I envision a horn system that is activated at high-intensity when a large object is detected on the tracks and used at regular or diminished capacity otherwise. The inclusion of high-intensity lights may alleviate some of the need for loud horns at all times, making the train more visible. At multi-track intersections, large security-style rounded mirrors might offer vehicles more of a view. From there car safely off the tracks they could look all the way down all tracks via large mirrors such as this. Currently a single or several white beams on the front of the train do not cause the more intense panic generated in humans by red lights. The airbag portion of this is not accurate as to my current thoughts on primary design. However, experts in the field of airbags and engineering can figure out the rest past the general concept. The recent launch of the rover on the surface of Mars will lend some very current information regarding airbag use and activation. NASA used a giant set of airbags to land the rover on the surface.) I envision something similar to a three-headed punching bag on the front that will direct them away from the train or pull them into the impact reduction system.
Train Hits SUV - 11 Killed - 170 Injured - January 26, 2005, Glendale, CA
Recently on a Railroad forum I saw a Engineer Trainee or Junior Engineer commenting on this concept in jest about it being a bad idea in general, but he finished his comment with something to the effect "Those dumb asses just need to keep their cars off the tracks." A few months ago a suicidal man in California parked his car on the tracks as a train was approaching. He got out before the SUV was struck, but he left the SUV behind. The SUV actually derailed the train causing a horrendous crash. So this may not be as funny to them now. The article about the crash follows. One noteworthy thing in the article is that when trains encounter vehicles in the crossing area, the train just crashes and crushes the vehicle as it slides out of the way. In this incident the occupant of the vehicle drove down the tracks in excess of 30 yards from the crossing area, and when it was hit the vehicle locked in place.
Glendale -- It was pitch-dark outside the giant Costco a few minutes after 6 a.m. Wednesday when suddenly the workers inside heard a horrendous screech followed by what sounded like an enormous thunder clap.
SECOND ARTICLE - TRUCK AND TRAIN WITH DERAILMENT
March 15, 1999
Dallas Texas, October 10, 2005: Train strikes pickup truck slipping past crossing gates, killing driver and seriously injuring man and infant in truck also:
UPDATE: Husband in accident above also died of head injuries shortly after this happened. Additional information about this situation and a new method to prevent this type of thing from happening follows:
Railway changes might have prevented deaths
09:06 AM CDT on Wednesday, October 12, 2005
GRAND PRAIRIE – If a two-year-old plan to create a "quiet zone" throughout the city had been in place, a Grand Prairie couple killed at a railroad crossing Monday might still be alive.
A quiet zone would silence train horns within city limits and require upgraded safety features at all railroad crossings that would make it practically impossible for a vehicle to cross the tracks when the crossing arms are down.
Veronica Sillas, 27, of Grand Prairie died instantly when the Ford Ranger pickup she was driving was struck by a westbound Texas Eagle Amtrak passenger train going about 60 mph. Mrs. Sillas had driven the truck around the crossing arms at Southwest 19th Street and stopped on the tracks, apparently to observe an eastbound freight train, according to police.
The midafternoon collision propelled the truck about 50 yards, and Mrs. Sillas' husband, Joe Sillas, 31, was ejected from the vehicle. He died at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday from head injuries at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.
The couple's daughter, 11-month-old Esmerelda Sillas, was strapped into a child safety seat in the center of the truck. She suffered head injuries and was taken by CareFlite to Children's Medical Center Dallas, where she was listed in critical condition Tuesday.
Grand Prairie began pursuing plans for the quiet zone in October 2003 after receiving numerous complaints from residents and business owners along the tracks about the loud train horns, said Jim Sparks, the city's transportation director. To qualify for a quiet zone, either a 6-foot-wide median or a four-quadrant crossing arm system must be installed at all crossings.
"If a train is, say, a quarter-mile away, all four gates go down and there's no way to drive around," Mr. Sparks said.
"But if for whatever reason a car is on the track and a train's coming, the exit gate will stay up so they can get off the track."
The city wants to install four-quadrant gates at several crossings, including those at Southwest 19th and Southwest 23rd streets, he said. Those crossings are less than 100 feet from traffic signals along Jefferson and Main streets.
Mr. Sparks estimates that installing the upgraded gates would cost $380,000 per crossing.
The city has funds for the gates at Southwest 19th Street and Southwest 14th, but because the latter will be included in the State Highway 161 construction, Mr. Sparks is hoping to divert that money for an upgraded gate at Southwest 23rd Street.
The money was obtained through the North Central Texas Council of Governments' Railroad Crossing Reliability Partnership program, which distributed $8.9 million to Collin County and 10 North Texas cities, including Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Garland, Grand Prairie and Plano, said Gregg Royster, principal transportation engineer with the council of governments.
The money is earmarked for railroad crossing improvements, including gates, flashers, raised medians and warning signs, Mr. Sparks said. The cities pay 20 percent of their project's cost, and federal money covers the remaining 80 percent.
Medians, which can be used only at crossings at least 100 feet from traffic signals, would be used at the remaining crossings in Grand Prairie. The non-mountable medians are built between lanes entering and exiting the crossing to prevent vehicles from moving into the adjacent lane to get around the safety arm.
Mr. Sparks hopes to have the quiet zone in place by summer 2007. The city plans to submit its plan to the Federal Railroad Administration next month. It would also have to be approved by Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the tracks.
"It's just a long, slow process," said Dane Stovall, a senior traffic engineering technician with the city.
Guy Godfrey, railroad program coordinator for the Texas Department of Transportation, visited the Southwest 19th Street crossing last week to help assess whether a four-quadrant crossing arm would work.
In the meantime, vehicles can easily maneuver around the safety arms, as happened Monday. It's a major problem in Grand Prairie, police say.
"We typically will catch between 50 and 100 violators every time we do a concentrated railroad enforcement detail," Grand Prairie police Sgt. Eric Hansen said. "I cannot echo enough the importance of obeying railroad signals."
For a list of all railroad accidents visit: All Railway Disasters
This idea is also being presented at:
Direct Link to this idea: http://www.whynot.net/view_idea?id=2025
My Car Accidents in Dallas View my car wreck video, with footage of two accidents I was in here in Dallas, the latter one requiring the jaws of life. Photos and video can be viewed at the following links:
My Car Accidents in Dallas
View my car wreck video, with footage of two accidents I was in here in Dallas, the latter one requiring the jaws of life. Photos and video can be viewed at the following links: