North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

By Pam Stevens
Editor 

Staying safe at railroad crossings

 


I saw a news clip on the ABC News last week where two women in Indiana came exceptionally close to being run over by an approaching train.

The two women, in their 30s, are seen running on the tracks which were on a bridge. They heard the conductor of the train blaring his horn and tried to out run the train.

It is obvious that they were terrified and I am sure that the poor conductor was just as alarmed as he was doing everything in his power to stop the train before hitting them.

The women soon laid down on the tracks and made their bodies as flush with the tracks as possible in the 10-inch space between the tracks and the ground, which in turn, saved their lives.

Train tracks have always terrified me and I am sure that it all started when I was a child and my dad’s cousin and his four-year-old daughter were in their truck and struck by a train at an unidentified train crossing in Wyoming. They were both killed instantly.

That experience and the sadness that our family experienced has never left my memories.

In the case of the women in Indiana, I’m not sure why they were on those tracks at all. It seems like an unnecessary risk to take on an active train track and the two are being charged with criminal trespassing because of it.

As human beings we sometimes forget that we are not invincible. Trains way hundreds of thousands of pounds and can take minutes to stop.

A train traveling only 15 miles per hour can take 1500 feet to stop.

The North County Outlook’s office sits just to the east of the train tracks in Marysville and I witness several trains a day barreling past my office window. Passenger trains as well as cargo trains go by each and every day.

These trains are necessary for business in the Pacific Northwest, without them businesses liking Boeing would have to find other ways to receive their goods for manufacturing.

That means that drivers need to be more responsible when it comes to railway crossings and people need to avoid walking on the tracks at all times.

Safety should be a top priority.

Representative Rick Larsen asked the Department of Transportation last week to do more to ensure safety on the railways here in Washington state.

“Moving goods and people safely and efficiently creates jobs and keeps our economy strong. Washington state’s trade in products from airplane parts to apples means we need a robust transportation system, including railways,” Larsen said. “I have asked Secretary Foxx to invest in better rail crossings in Washington state because as our economy grows, our railways and roads are getting more congested. The Puget Sound Regional Council report is a wake- up call that underscores the need for sustainable, long-term transportation investments.” You can find that report at psrc.org.

I am glad to see that government officials are doing what they can to protect citizens from unnecessary danger at railroad crossings but we need to do our part as well by making better decisions when it comes to these often-dangerous thoroughfares.

 

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