Dwight Watt Internet Article #4

#4 Railroad Safety 8/10/1998

Railroad Safety We have all heard for years about the railroads pushing safety through their Stop, Look and Listen programs. Those programs I am sure have helped to reduce car-train wrecks, and accordingly fatalities. Most of us fully understand the concept that in a contest between a car and a train that the train usually wins, and never loses. Thereby most of us are intelligent to be careful when crossing tracks and to wait for the train. But what happens when we never see the train and broadside it. It happens. More often than we want admit and sometimes it kills.

Why do the railroads not take a simple action that would prevent many of these accidents? As a general rule, train cars are painted flat black, and in the dark have absolutely no reflectibility to them. So if the crossing has no bars and lights, then there is a high likelihood at night you will not see the train until too late. Not only that most railroad crossing only have a sign there saying it is a crossing. Now I fully understand that it costs the railroads lots of money to put lights and bars on crossings and that most crossings only have a few vehicles cross each day. But why don't the railroads do a simple item that has been done for cars, trucks and buses?

Since about 1967, new cars have been required to have reflectors on the side of cars to help prevent being broadsided. It works. Not only that since 1968 cars have been required to lights on the side to even help more. I can remember when my parents got a new 1968 Nova how much easier it was to see their car from a distance off coming to pick me up because of those side lights. Next time you see a school bus or a tractor-trailer at night, notice the amount of reflector tape on the side of them. Then think about how far ahead you would know they were blocking the road and that you could avoid an accident.

My solution for the trains is that they do the same. They don't necessarily need sidelights, but think what reflector tape on the side of each train car would do? You would know their was something blocking the road and could avoid an accident. If the power has failed and so warning lights are not working people would still see the train. Let's encourage our railroad companies to do something about this. The cost I suspect would be little to nothing after factoring the reduced costs of paying for accidents and the corresponding lawsuits. Even with out that, reflective tape is not real expensive. We do use reflective paint to do all our road signs, and to paint lines on the road, and to mark barricades where roads end. If the railroads won't do it themselves, then let's get the federal government to make them do it. It can only save lives.


This is a little article I am doing across the Internet. I plan to write several times a week on a variety of subjects. It may be religious at times, political at times, and at other times just my reactions on something happening out there. It will often be like an op-ed article. If I do what I intend, you will at times want to shout I agree, other times you will want to say Dwight has really lost it now, but most importantly I want to challenge you to think. Feel free to forward this to others. If you don't want to get this e-mail let me know. Feel free to use what you read from me, but I request you give me credit and send a tear sheet if it is printed. Thanks.

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