Monday, November 19, 2012

Believe the Warnings

Railroad crossings are marked to let drivers know that a train is coming.  A train cannot stop when it sees an object in the crossing.  A fast moving train requires a mile or more to stop.  Rail transport is efficient and effective at moving large loads - not at negotiating in close traffic.  I have ridden in the engine of a train.  I have listened to train crews recall incidents in which they could not stop.  Incidents in which they watched helplessly as the train plowed into a object on the track.  With emergency brakes on, with whistle blowing all they can do is slow the impact.  In Texas last week a train  hit a flatbed truck which had pulled onto the crossing even as the warning lights began to flash.  The truck was decorated as a float carrying wounded soldiers to a parade.  As the news spread of the incident in Texas sympathy was expressed widely for those on the float, especially the injured.  I express my sympathy for those on the train crew who saw the event unfold but were helpless to stop it.  The moral to this story is obvious - be cautious approaching and entering a train crossing.  Believe the warnings.  Take responsibility.

PS Perhaps you know the song about Casey Jones, an engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad at the end of the 19th century.  Jones lost his life in a train wreck - an event made legendary by the popular song.

Read the incident report filed a month after the crash to learn what really happened. 

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