In an age where airplanes can get people across the country in relatively little time, it’s easy to forget about the dangers posed by trains. Railway safety tends to get short shrift in this modern day, which is why it’s great to hear about the efforts of groups like Operation Lifesaver. A Union Pacific representative involved with the program in Colorado recently explained the ways they stress injury prevention.
It all starts with engineering, enforcement, and education (the three E’s). Those who witness an Operation Lifesaver presentation get to learn about how trains work, including the reasons for and importance of signals. Police are also invited by the group to ride on a train so that they can spot dangerous behavior. This theoretically helps the cops to understand what to look out for when on patrol.
But perhaps most important are the tips offered to regular citizens. Safety begins with understanding the limitations of trains and the force of an impact. Just because an engineer sees you doesn’t mean they’ll stop in time. It takes the average freight hauler a mile to come to a complete halt. Not exactly stopping on a dime. The OL representative stressed that an automobile driver is 40 times as likely to die in a train collision than in a crash with another vehicle.
So use some sense. Approach every train track with caution, even if the gates aren’t down, and be particularly on guard if there are multiple train tracks present. The first set might be clear of danger, but that doesn’t mean the second one is.