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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Over the past year of researching, posting and writing to this site I have come across several news stories every week (sometimes daily) of someone being killed by a train. Call them people, the public, citizens, trespassers or drivers- many are being hurt or killed on a regular basis. I have not posted these stories because while railroad related, it is not (in my opinion) railroad news. We in the railroad industry already know these tragic incidents occur and work hard daily to try to prevent them from happening. Railroads and Operation Lifesaver do a good job educating the public to the dangers on railroad property. What I believe is lacking is the general news media attention. Yes they post or broadcast a story after an accident, but rarely do they say anything about the overall hazards of trespassing on railroad property or how such an incident could be prevented.

In the past 24 hours at least seven people have been killed and one was struck resulting in non fatal injuries. These incidents took place in California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Indiana and Virginia. Two incidents involved cars on the tracks passing lowered gates or warning lights, killing a total of four. The other accidents were people walking in the gauge or across tracks and not hearing the oncoming train.

So what can can be done?
I don't have all the answers, however first I would attempt to get the mass news media more involved in educating the public on a regular basis. Put more news reporters in the locomotive cab so they can see what we see.

Second, maybe the FRA, AAR, ASLRRA can provide more assistance and public education. Such as the ad developed by the MTA for LI railroad below. While this ad is graphic, it's memorable and gets the point across.

Apparently many people in the general public don't know what railroaders know, "When in doubt, the safe course must be taken" and "expect a train on any track, in any direction, at anytime".

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