Pay attention when near railroad tracks
Our region is criss-crossed with railroad tracks. We get used to the sights and sounds … sometimes the waiting in traffic. A good section of Salem is impaced by railroad tracks and seemingly endless waits while sitting at crossings for a train to clear.
A tragedy last week reminds us those trains that have become so much a part of the background cannot be forgotten. Last year alone, 21 pedestrians were killed by trains in Ohio. A worker from American Standard was struck and killed leaving work in Salem.
A week ago, a Marietta man taking a lunch break as part of a county work crew decided to take a walk along the tracks.
He was on a rail bridge over a small stream when a freight train approached. It seems he had nowhere to go, and the train could not stop in time.
His tragedy serves as a heart-breaking reminder that every precaution must be taken when near railroad tracks.
According to Operation Lifesaver: Rail Safety Education, all railroad tracks are private property, and walking on them is considered trespassing.
But illegal or not, walking on them is never a good idea. They are often built in areas that do not offer much of an escape route if a train does approach. Trains can move in either direction and are quieter than ever. It is often difficult to tell when a train is on its way, until it is in view. And once it is in view, it probably is moving faster than it seems.
Even when crossing tracks at designated crossings, “Stay alert around railroad tracks. No texting, headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train; never mix rails and recreation,” Operation Lifesaver reminds us.
With warm weather and no school in session, the temptation to do a little exploring on the tracks may be greater, especially for young people.
Remind them to stay away, and stay safe.