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Railroad crossing, look out for the cars

Dash cam footage captures Springfield, Ohio train derailment

This video aired on our local news today and I found it very unnerving. Not because it’s the second Ohio derailment in the last month — although it convinces me never to ride a train through Ohio — but because the car, stopped well short of the crossing, still had to back away.

You see, I have a thing about trains, and it’s not a good thing. I’m pretty sure it dates back to my early childhood in the ’40s when my parents did their traveling on trains. I distinctly remember walking along the platforms next to the tracks. Giant train cars loomed overhead. Blasts of steam erupted loudly and unexpectedly from their undercarriages. Huge wheels were just feet away, on the same level as the platforms. It was very noisey with passengers hurrying about, redcaps maneuvering big carts full of luggage, trains chugging by on nearby tracks, sounding their whistles, conductors hollering “boooard!” It was scary!

The luggage carts I remember looked something like this. The metal wheels made a lot of noise on concrete, especially if the cart was empty.

Then there was the incident in Norman, Oklahoma, when I lived there. The huz and I were in the car one night, driving along Main Street, which crossed the tracks right next to the train station. Just as we started across the tracks, a train, standing at the station but hidden from view until that moment, blasted its whistle. I turned and saw nothing but its headlight looming high above us. In that instant I knew I was dead.

Now comes this video of what can happen while you’re stopped at a railroad crossing. And it drives home a thought I always have when I stop at a rail crossing — don’t stop too close to the tracks. Leave as much room between you and the tracks as you’d want if the passing trail derails or tips over. Probably irrational but I can’t help it. Cars will probably stop behind me and I won’t be able to back up as the driver in the video did (lucky driver). I don’t care what other drivers think; if I’m first in line at a crossing, I will stop well back and will be nervous until the train has passed.

I know, I’m probably being silly. But I can’t help it. And at my age I’m not likely to change.

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