Colliding with a train is a no-win situation

Staying safe around tracks is easy to do

Take a long admiring, look at your personal vehicle some time, and then think back on the last time you saw a train.

The difference between the two is spectacular. You may have the biggest, most tricked out SUV or pickup and it still won’t stand a chance against a diesel locomotive if the two collided. That big SUV, or any other vehicle for that matter, would be squashed like an old beer can. And if a person was struck by a train, the consequences would be too horrible to contemplate.

The nation’s railroads stress safety, especially during this week designated Railroad Safety Week.

The Fort Dodge area is served by two major freight railroads: Canadian National Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. Their tracks cross west of town, a circumstance that led to the creation of the ag industrial park called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

Lots of local people probably pay no attention to the railroads. Unless they are stopped in traffic on Fifth Avenue South while a Union Pacific train rolls through the grade crossing, railroads are out of sight for many.

But tracks and roads do cross and very bad things can happen at those crossings.

Fortunately, preventing tragedies there can be easy.

Drivers approaching a grade crossing need to look for trains, flashing lights and cross arms coming down to block the tracks. They also need to listen for train horns and bells. An alert driver who looks and listens for those things will be safe at a grade crossing.

People on foot may be tempted to walk along the tracks, or even pose for pictures on them. Those are bad ideas. A train can come along at any time. The trains move faster than you might expect and although modern locomotives can generate about 4,400 horsepower, they are quieter than one would expect. The best idea is to stay off the tracks.

Look and listen at the crossings and stay away from the tracks when you are out walking. Those simple tips will keep you safe.


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