Nice train safety video recently put out by New Jersey Department of Transportation.
These accidents are almost always avoidable if people make safe choices. Pedestrians and commuters have a choice to avoid being hurt or killed, and respect the law around railroad tracks.
Rail-related deaths in NJ average a little over 2 per month, and so NJDOT formed a safety committee to try to address this. Recommendations include everything from signs warning of multiple trains where there is more than one track, “skirts” on crossing gates to prevent people from ducking under them, increased police enforcement, and suicide hotline signs (21 of the 51 deaths on NJ tracks in the last two years are confirmed suicides).
But I like how this video is called “It’s Your Choice” – no one makes a person duck around a lowered crossing gate, cut across tracks where there is no pedestrian crossing, or ignore warning signs because of headphone or cell phone distractions. Those are choices (and stupid ones) made by the individual, and they can be fatal around trains. Just the other day I saw a man on a cell phone come within a foot of getting hit by a train coming into BTC because he started to cross from the center platform toward the bus stops without bothering to look or listen, as you can hear the Lombard crossing gates from the platforms at BTC that make it clear an eastbound train is coming in. He laughed to whoever he was talking to on the phone “Hey, I almost got hit by a train just now!”
It’s not funny. It’s not funny for the operator, for witnesses, for the medical teams that show up, or for you – even if you do survive being hit. We can put up all the Z-crossings and “STOP HERE” signs in the world (and I do think we should!), but we can’t make people choose not to do stupid things around railroad tracks.