Sunday, July 31, 2005

Cross at your own risk

Again, maybe it's just that I've been living in the city for so long... but ever since I moved back home I've noticed that the state of railroad crossings is far different here. In Columbus I don't think I saw a single crossing without both the swing-down gate and the flashing lights for whenever a train passed. But here in Portage County, OH, I'd say those highfalutin' railroad crossings are the exception rather than the norm. More often than not I see a crossing with only the flashing lights, although sometimes it's just the gate. And on lightly-traveled residential roads, I'm even prone to seeing railroad crossings with no signals whatsoever- just a sign that reads "Railroad Crossing" and a striped pylon. It's a good thing the pylon doesn't rotate, or else I'd stop there to get a haircut. I'm not complaining, understand- variety being the spice of life, things just wouldn't be as exciting if everything was standardized. But still, these things couldn't be reassuring for the railroads' insurers- what's the railroad company going to do if a car gets into an accident with a train at night because he couldn't see to stop? Are they just going to say "well, it's not like we didn't warn you or anything..."?

1 comment:

Champaign American said...

Decatur, IL is the central rail hub of the U.S. there isn't a day where I don't get obstructed by rail traffic and most of the crossings are not well marked. I almost bought it a few years ago by not paying attention and the actual diesel smell filled my car as I cross the tracks about 20 feet in front of the moving engine...After nearly having a UBM after crossing the tracks I've learned my lesson.

So now I always stop at railroad crossings and look both ways just like the school bus driver does.