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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Keeping track

Remember that scene in "Stand By Me" where the boys are walking across a railroad trestle and you just know a train is going to come while they're right in the middle of it and sure enough one does show up and your heart sort of leaps up in your throat? Or maybe it's just me. I actually lived as a kid in a house by the railroad tracks (I 'll leave it for others to say on which side of the tracks), so I grew up very aware of how dangerous it was to mess around trains and with a mother and father who constantly harped on the danger. Either other mothers and fathers aren't getting the message out, or the learning curve is steeper than most people realize:

The railroad industry has made a lot of progress in reducing the number of vehicle/train collisions at rail crossings through education of the motoring public. In 2005, Indiana had 177 crashes at crossings, resulting in 21 deaths. By 2009, the crash number had dropped to 98 accidents, with 14 deaths.

However, trespassing incidents in 2005 resulted in 14 deaths and 7 injuries. By 2009, the number of trespassing deaths was 13 and the number of injuries had risen to 13.

So, look: A train weighs around 12,000 to 15,000 tons and takes a looooong time to stop. Got that? Make sure the kids understand not to take a shortcut that might take them someplace they don't want to go.


Mon, 05/03/2010 - 12:32pm

My paternal grandfather "Skyjack" (a nickname that should come as no surprise) was an engineer for the C&O. He killed dozens of people, mostly at grade crossings, for exactly the reason you mention.
He once hit a car and ordered his fireman to get out and assess the damage. The fireman quickly came back and reported "just a little paint knocked off the front."
He had looked at the steam locomotive, of course, not the car, which contained five corpses.
I simply can't understand why grade crossings exist, and I can't understand why drivers routinely try to outrun trains to cross them.

tim zank
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 1:35pm

Grade crossings exist because people are supposed to be smart enough to stop for trains, sorry about their luck, but there's no denying the benefits of natural selection! Sure fire way to "cull the herd".

Bob G.
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 2:06pm

LMAO, Tim...
Natural selection - cull the herd...I love it.
The operative words here are "SUPPOSED" and "SMART".