The Amtrak train travelling from Los Angeles to Chicago got derailed at Mendon, Missouri, after hitting a dump truck. There were nearly 243 passengers on board, and as per Cpl. Justin Dunn, with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, at least three people have been killed. Reports of many more being injured have already arrived, and Dunn noted that the accident took place at an “uncontrolled crossing”.

An uncontrolled crossing is where there are no stop signs, traffic controls, or other spotlights. There are also no lights or electronic devices to warn cars of coming trains. Such intersections are common on rural roads, and there are numerous accidents in the US due to this. 

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Just a day before the derailment at Mendon, another Amtrak train hit a vehicle in Brentwood, California, leaving three dead. East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Marshal Steve Aubert spoke on the matter, saying “There are no crossing arms, there are no signals at that crossover, and it’s not the first accident that we’ve been to at that same spot. Trains are allowed to go up to 80 miles-per-hour along that stretch so it doesn’t take long for a train to catch up right at that crossing there”, CNN reported. 

In 2021, there were 2,131 collisions on highway-rail intersections at private and public crossings, resulting in 237 deaths and 653 injuries, as per the Federal Railroad Administration which is a part of the US Department of Transportation. 

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Some tips to remember at uncontrolled crossings are to approach with caution and look both ways before crossing. If drivers see a train approaching, chances are it can’t be beaten, and it would be best to let it pass before attempting to cross the intersection. 

Once the intersections are clear, it is best to proceed carefully yet quickly leaving the tracks clear for other approaching trains.