The Sacramento Regional Transit District has allowed FOX40 unprecedented access to help increase awareness about what transit officials feel is a need for caution around the city’s light rail trains.
Light rail trains were involved in 40 incidents in 2012 with an automobile, bicycle or pedestrian, according to records provided to FOX40 in January. RT says the majority of the accidents were caused by someone other than its operators making a bad decision.
Mike Wiley, RT’s general manager, says people need to be more aware of their surroundings.
“When you look at the major accidents we have had, in particular over the last year or so, all of those have been a direct result of someone doing something kind of stupid,” Wiley said.
To help illustrate how long it takes to stop a train, RT fired up one of its trains in a maintenance yard and initiated the emergency brake. Going at 20 miles per hour, it took the train 6 seconds to stop. At 45 miles per hour, a train can take the length of a city block to come to a rest.
“If you haven’t left enough space between you and that train, you’re putting yourself at great risk,” said RT’s chief operating officer Mark Lonergan.
Dashcam videos from two separate incidents in December 2012 were provided to FOX40 through a California Public Records Act request.
One video showed the train as it traveled on N. 12th Street and collided with a truck trying to turn onto N. B Street. Transit officials point to the video showing the truck in a lane reserved for RT trains. They also contend the truck driver had a red, “no turn” arrow.
The video also reveals the train operator had a limited field of view leading up to the intersection, but RT says the intersection is safe, if everyone is obeying the law.
Dashcam video from another incident in December showed a man outside of his wheelchair near the tracks at 19th and S Streets. A woman with him stumbled into the train, according the RT. She was killed in the incident, but the man near the tracks was not injured. Investigators say they later determined that the man and the woman were both drunk.
RT believes these incidents, and future incidents, can be avoided with a public that’s more aware.