Chicago was once known as the “railroad hub of the nation”. Our city was able to grow and prosper as railroads sent people and goods all over the nation. These passenger and freight lines continue to run even today. In the Chicago area, residents have a lot of exposure to trains and train tracks.
I live in a suburb with three active freight lines and a commuter rail stop. Sometimes the behavior of the young people in our community stops me in my tracks – ignoring gates that are down and going around them, walking along the busy railroad tracks and trying to beat the gates as they go down. Sometimes adults stop and talk the young people and let them know dangerous their behavior is. These talks are often met with a blank stare. Adults are concerned for a good reason. Young people in our community have experienced serious injuries from train crashes. We even had a tragic fatality recently.
The fact is that train engineers can often see people doing unsafe behaviors but they often can’t stop the train in time to avert a tragedy. Did you know that it can take a mile for a train travelling at 55 MPH to come to a complete stop once the engineer starts braking? That’s why it’s important for all of us to follow some simple rules around trains.
· Never go around gates – even if you think they’re stuck or down in error. Trains may be coming from the other direction.
· Don’t walk along or on train tracks. Tracks and their adjacent area are actually private property and walking along them is trespassing.
· Cross tracks only at designated crossings.
· Never try to beat gates are they are lowering.
Let’s work together to #STOPTrackTragedies