by Jayme Ackemann, @jaymeackemann

For many Caltrain employees, fatalities start out with two gut-wrenching words, “Emergency, Emergency.”  Behind those words many more will follow but the hardest to see will provide details about someone’s tragic last moments whether an intentional act or an unthinking accident.

Worse still is the impact these incidents have on the engineers and conductors who are often forced to bear witness to someone’s final moments while working feverishly to stop the train in time.

Working with rail safety education groups like Operation Lifesaver, we take to the communities surrounding our railroad to talk about staying safe when driving or walking near tracks.  The national organization’s campaign, “See tracks, think train,” seeks to remind people not to get complacent when driving or walking near the railroad.  That is why it is so frustrating to see video like this segment put together by KRON 4’s Stanley Roberts for his “People Behaving Badly” segment.  The video focuses on the Ravenswood crossing in Menlo Park where a young woman was killed after stopped her vehicle on the tracks.

In Robert’s report, cars knowingly stop on the tracks…and wait…hoping to make the next light.  This may have been the very same thing that young woman was doing when she lost her life, only the investigation will tell us for sure.

What’s even more disturbing to me, were the two mothers out for a walk with their children in strollers.  The lights and bells started ringing, the gates started coming down, and they made a mad dash across the tracks.  It might have cost them a minute waiting for the train to pass…or it might have cost them their children’s lives.  That is not an “Emergency” I ever want to see.


People Behaving Badly

1 Comment »

  1. We should make billboards with large pictures of the cars that have been hit by trains and post them near crossings as a warning. Just like those films in high school driver’s ed, maybe we have to scare folks with the consequence. Just this morning I saw two minivans cross the tracks to Alma as the crossing guards were coming down. I timed it, and the train crossed 18 seconds after the 2nd van finished crossing. If the first car had stopped, that would have been it for the second van.

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