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Good morning everyone. I felt compelled to post on a topic that I am very passionate about, but also scares the crap out of me.

About every 3 minutes in the United States someone is hit by a train, be it in their car at a road crossing, or while walking along the tracks (trespassing).

I have worked for one of the smaller class 1 railroads for almost 17 years now, the past 9 as an engineer (yup I drive the choo choo). In that time I have seen too many incidents where people were either hit, or nearly hit. I find this to be unacceptable, as each and every incident is avoidable.

I have recently become involved in Operation Lifesaver an organization that promotes rail safety, and the statistics are staggering.

Please, when you come to a set of train tracks, take the time to slow down, look for anything coming, listen for anything coming, and then proceed if it's safe to do so. Look, Listen, & Live is more than a slogan... it can be the difference between coming home to your families and not doing so.

An average freight train weighs in about 3500 tons. They may not sound like much, but consider that every ton is equal to 2000 pounds. Our cars probably weigh in about a ton a half, give or take. Many trains are much, much heavier... I frequently work on loaded coal trains that weigh in at around 18000 tons. As a result, trains can't stop quickly... not even close.

Your average car will take about 200 feet to stop from 55 MPH (some more, some less). Your average freight train running the same speed will take in excess of a mile, that is 5280 feet plus! That distance is AFTER the engineer applies the emergency brakes. We are trained to no apply the emergency brakes until we are 100% certain that a collision is gonna happen, so even if we see you doing something that you shouldn't, it's too late for us to do anything about it. It's also extremely difficult to predict what is happening a mile or more in front of us... have you ever tried to look at something that was a mile away? at best it looks like a spec that is pretty much unidentifiable, at worst, it's not seen at all.

If you see gates down and lights flashing, please stop and wait for the gates to stop. If you're at a crossing that doesn't have gates or lights, please take an extra minute to look to see what's coming, if anything. Stopping for a train, and waiting a few minutes is better than the alternative... would you rather be late or dead? There is also the often forgotten victims, the train crews that will have to live with seeing someone die, not six feet in front of where they're sitting, knowing they couldn't do anything to prevent it.

Please educate your friends and family as well. This is too important to not pass around. Check out the available links on YouTube, or Facebook, or where ever you like to check things out. The more info and knowledge you have, the better prepared you can be.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


Exco
 
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