TSB releases report on train crash that killed 4 in Sask.

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The crash happened at a level crossing near Broadview, Sask., which is about 155 kilometres east of Regina.

Driver inexperience and a partially obstructed view of the train tracks were likely factors in a 2012 train-camper crash at Broadview, Sask., that left four young people dead, the Transportation Safety Board says.

The TSB released its report Wednesday on the Aug. 9, 2012, collision that also injured the 15-year-old driver and his mother.

The people who died included a woman, 18, two 11-year-old girls, and a boy, seven.

Three of the four were from Turner Valley, Alta. or had connections to the town, while the fourth was from the Whitewood, Sask., area.

The camper-van had been heading south on a dirt road at a level crossing when it was hit by the westbound Canadian Pacific freight train.

The site is described as a “passive” public crossing in that there were reflective signs at the train tracks (so-called crossbucks mounted on posts), but no automated arms to provide additional safety. 

A number of factors likely had something to do with the crash, the report said. 

“A partially obstructed view, the position of the sun, the vehicle characteristics, the driver’s limited experience with the risks associated in negotiating a passive public crossing protected solely by [Standard Reflectorized Crossing Signs], and the fatigued state of the supervising driver likely contributed to the accident,” a news release from the TSB said.

The train had its lights on and was using a horn as it approached the crossing. But there was tall grass and other vegetation east of the site that could have prevented the train crew and camper occupants from getting a good look at each other,

The driver, a week away from his 16th birthday, had a learner’s licence and had experience driving farm vehicles for at least two years, the report noted. However, he had limited experience with passive rail crossings.

The TSB recommends that passive level crossings should be equipped with better technology to warn people that a train is approaching. Some of this technology would be low-cost, it says.

“Considering the serious consequences that can result from a crossing accident, and the technological advancements that have been made, the board is concerned that, in the absence of timely implementation of low-cost alert systems, the risk of accidents at passive crossings will continue,” the TSB said.

The driver was severely injured. His mother received minor injuries.

The TSB said over the past 10 years, there have been 658 accidents involving vehicles at passive public crossings, with 59 fatalities.

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