A Train is Bigger Than You

If you grew up in WV during the heyday of the coal mine, you know about trains. Not just the boredom of waiting for a three hundred car, slow train blocking you from your destination, but also the stuff taught in school.

I guess they’d call it “Red Rails,” like the videos shown to teenage drivers’ ed students. The pictures were often graphic, but sometimes it takes that to get the message across. If you pick a fight with a train, get ready to lose. It may be a limb or it may be your life. Trains are bigger than you, even if you’re in a car.

The most frequent issue here is “beat the train.” Cars go around crossing gates in the hopes that they will get across the tracks before becoming so much scrap metal. If you happen to be in the car when it gets hit, you will most likely lose your life. So will any passengers in your vehicle.

“Beat the train” doesn’t just hurt or kill people in vehicles. It can also hurt and kill passengers on the train. Trains don’t come with seatbelts and the force of the impact can knock everyone around. It can derail the train, possible causing cars to fall over. Even if it’s not a passenger train, this can be dangerous. Cars with caustic chemicals can spring a leak and lead to widespread evacuations.

Another means of getting killed by a train is to walk/jog on the tracks. Folks, this is not a jogging path. It is a set of train tracks, and trains use them. If you have your headphones on, chances are pretty good you won’t hear the train until it’s far too late. Even if you don’t care about whether or not you survive, think of the poor engineer that hits you. He or she cannot stop the train in time to save your life. All they can do is watch you die.

Train hopping is illegal. It’s illegal for two reasons. One goes back to the days of train travel, when you would literally be stealing your ride. In effect, you’d still be stealing. However, the most important reason is the danger to life and limb.

Climbing onto, around, over or into a moving train is dangerous. A woman here lost an arm and both feet doing that in the recent past. She’s lucky that’s all she lost. She could have lost her life.

Keep this in mind: a car can stop within a few hundred feet, even if it’s going over 70 mph. A train, which weighs thousands of tons, can take more than a quarter mile to stop. There is literally nothing the engineer can do. You have to watch out for the train and stay out of its way. It cannot.

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