Thursday, August 20, 2009

Railroading

Maybe it's me. I know I can be a little dense sometimes, but at least I recognize that. One thing I've always failed to understand is how people get killed crossing railroad tracks. Trains are not small furry animals that dart out of nowhere. Trains run on tracks. The tracks pretty much don't move. Ever. So we have a very large, very loud object traveling along a predetermined path. Where's the surprise? Say someone is walking along the tracks (illegal, right? we've all done it) and hears a train approaching from *gasp* behind them. What to do?! Run as fast as you can directly in front of the train, of course.

I don't understand how difficult it is to run thirty feet perpendicular to the train. Ok, maybe there are trees or shrubs or even blackberry brambles. I'd much rather tango with a blackberry bush than a locomotive. And what about train trestles? Let me say this clearly: railroads are PRIVATE PROPERTY. Don't use them. If the trestle is the only way across a swollen river, look both ways as far as you can, listen, feel the tracks for vibration (rarely works), and RUN! Don't walk across a trestle if you absolutely must use one.

Do not park your car on railroad tracks. Do not lie on the tracks sunbathing. Do not play on the tracks. Do not try to beat a train through a road/tracks intersection. Don't try to climb aboard a moving train, and don't try to jump off a moving train (unless you're fleeing captives, in which case jump as far from the tracks as you can). And if you see the train approaching, don't run across the tracks! Sit tight for a couple minutes, allow the train to pass, and once you don't see any more trains headed your direction, proceed with caution. It's that easy and safe.

Having your car die while trying to cross the tracks is one thing, and those situations are unfortunate. I'm not trying to be mean to anyone who has had a legitimate run-in with a train. I am, though, trying to express my frustration with railroad-related injuries and deaths. Trains aren't big, scary monsters that just pop out unannounced. Even Amtrak, for all of its speed, is freakin' loud.

Move off the tracks when a train approaches. It's not that hard.

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