An engineer driving a train should be alert to all unprotected crossings and be required to blow the whistle, even if we desire quiet neighborhoods.

Most residents of congested areas are used to traveling highly restricted roadways with stoplights, blinking caution lights, and railroad gates. Every driver is guided through the streets with stop lights, signs, school traffic monitors, and safe railroad crossings. If you’ve never crossed railroad tracks without warning lights and gates, you might never know that such a thing exists.

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If you have the expectation that all crossings are protected by gates and lights, you could easily continue driving through a crossing that does not even have a stop sign. If the vegetation is not well-trimmed, it can look like an abandoned crossing. Further, if there is a sign right across the tracks naming the place you’ve been looking for, your eyes will first and primarily see it and lock onto that sign. An information sign can serve to draw you across obscure railroad tracks that look nothing like the RR crossings you are accustomed to.

An engineer driving a train should be alert to all unprotected crossings and be required to blow the whistle, even if we desire quiet neighborhoods.

I grew up in wide open spaces of the Plains, where you could easily see a train coming.

However, as a teen, I drove out into the countryside to visit a school friend. I saw the crossed sign indicating I was approaching tracks. In my line of vision there was no train visible.

What my youthful mind did not factor into the equation was that the tracks were approaching the road at an acute angle. A fast-moving train out-of-sight to my forward face was on a speedy course to hit my car, but I had not seen the approaching train due to it being out of my line of vision. Thankfully, the engineer was alert and blew the whistle just in time for me to safely pull to a stop. I sat at the crossing with my heart racing, realizing how close to death I had come.

I dread driving through railroad-crossings, and I take nothing for granted when doing so.

Signals can fail. Because trains can drive themselves, there may not even be any train personnel actually watching the tracks, and trains are heavy and cannot stop on a dime. Some of us cross train tracks at least 10 times a week.

Kudos to the owners of Virgin Trains/Brightline for committing to work at making their deadliest railroad in the nation safer in the future. If our country had prospered as it should have, we would have had Eastern Seaboard monorail passenger service by now. And we drivers wouldn’t be spending as much time stopping at train crossings or reading about tragic deaths.

KAREN COODY COOPER, LAKE WORTH BEACH



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