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That yellow tarp doesn’t mean its raining outside near a train!

ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN. Trains DO NOT follow set schedules

Why didn’t you see the train??? Did your supervisor discuss the importance to talking about vehicle and trains at work?

Most people have never thought about how they see and have probably never thought that seeing even requires explanation. It just happens. At most, they have a vague intuitive notion that vision scientists call the “Homunculus theory.” The eyes are like cameras that project an image on to an inner screen where a little man, the Homunculus, views it. There are many reasons why this scheme is wrong, most obviously that it begs the question of how the Homunculus sees the image. (Is there a second Homunculus inside the first, and third inside second, on and on into infinite regress?) Moreover, most people suffer from “naïve realism”, the false notion that seeing is a passive process where the eyes transmit a complete and objective reality directly to our consciousness. Naïve realism is naïve because seeing is active, selective and highly subjective.

Naïve realism has powerful consequences for blame assignment, which is why it is so important to understand its naïvité.

We just look, and we see. There is little or no conscious thought or effort, so we must not be doing anything. I also run into the same problem when I testify about falls. It is highly un-intuitive that the ability to remain upright and to walk is a complex task that requires an intricate sensorimotor integration process. Unfortunately, most fail to appreciate that nature has thankfully made most of our everyday survival skills (seeing, walking, etc.) occur effortlessly so that our limited conscious resources can be directed toward novel problems for which we have no hard-wired or automatic behaviors.

Could it be PRT (poor reaction time)

“There are a number of conditions (e.g. rain, snow, fog, night) that can severely limit forward visibility and make it difficult to determine when some object or condition entered the driver’s field of view. The most common of these is probably nighttime. During the daytime a potential hazard such as a train being in the road would be visible for a considerable distance, but at night he/she becomes gradually more visible as the vehicle approaches. When the driver becomes aware of the trains presence this marks the end of the detection interval. But, when does it start?”

A motorist is 40 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. With over 37,000 public, private and pedestrian highway/railway crossings in Canada your averages are not great if you don’t follow safety. And most collisions occur within 40 kms of the motorist’s home.   In the United States the average is 20 times greater in hitting a train, from 1981 to 2014 there have been

Collisions 141696 Fatalities 18679 Injuries



Think who is at fault could it be your supervisor for not discussing the HAZARDS of the road and journey with you?

When the driver is very close to the tracks and the train’s motion is almost directly toward the driver, the retinal image expands almost equally in all directions. In this “looming” situation, the driver can use the image’s expanding edges for retinal image motion cues to judge time-to-collision (TTC). However, by the time that the driver is close enough to the tracks to use looming as a motion cue, it is usually too late to stop. Moreover, there is evidence that people tend to underestimate speed in such situations, so the driver would likely expect the train to arrive later than it actually would. TTC judgment, however, is critical for someone moving parallel to or on the tracks.

Large Objects Appear To Move Slower

People judge large objects as moving slower than smaller ones. Because trains are large objects, drivers underestimate train speeds. This general bias is further compounded by “object familiarity.” When drivers see the train, they base speed judgment on their more common experience of judging motion of automobiles, much smaller objects. Speed underestimation is then reinforced.

Lastly, drivers may race across the tracks because the flashing signal has low credibility. Flashing warnings usually begin far in advance of the train, so people learn that an activated signal does necessarily not mean that a train will arrive soon. This creates a “cry wolf” situation; if the lights begin to flash too far in advance of the train, then ironically the danger signal is transformed into a safety signal – it communicates the message that there definitely won’t be a train coming for awhile.

Trains can not stop on a dime! Trains CANNOT stop quickly. An average freight train travelling at 100 km/h requires about 2 km to stop.

A passenger train travelling at 160 km/h requires about the same distance to stop. Compare that to an automobile travelling at 90 km/h, which requires about 60 metres to stop.

  • The majority of highway/railway collisions occur when the train is travelling less than 50 km/h.

Did you review and discuss with your staff in their daily commute or journey management programs about the following

  • Never drive around lowered gates – it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local emergency number.
  • Never race a train to the crossing. Even in a tie, you lose.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks. Only proceed through a highway/railway crossing if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is 1 metre wider than the tracks on both sides.
  • If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. Call 911 or your local emergency number for assistance. Look for a 1-800 emergency notification number nearby to contact the railway.
  • At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching in either direction.
  • ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Trains do not follow set schedules.
  • Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 120 km/h can take up to 2 km or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied; more than 18 football fields in length!
  • Don’t be fooled by the optical illusion. The train you see is closer and faster moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.

Did you tell them about or show them why you think this is a critical safety topic

  • Be prepared to stop at a highway/railway crossing.
  • Look for the crossbuck symbol of a highway/railway crossing. Some more-travelled highway/railway crossings have lights and bells and some include gates.
  • Listen for warning bells and whistles. Turn off, or turn down distracting fans, heaters and radios. Ask the passengers to be quiet until the crossing is safely crossed. Opening the window helps you hear.
  • Obey the signals. Never attempt to drive under a gate as it is closing, or around a closed gate. If the gate begins to close while you’re underneath, keep moving ahead until you clear the crossing.
  • If a police officer or a member of the train crew is directing traffic at the crossing, obey their directions. Remember, however, that you are not relieved of the responsibility to ensure your personal safety and you must confirm that it is safe to cross the tracks by looking and listening for the approach of a train.
  • If one train passes, make sure that a second train isn’t approaching on another track. They can, and they do!
  • Cross the tracks in low gear. Do not attempt to change gears while crossing.
  • If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out quickly. Move towards the train and away from the tracks to avoid being hit by debris, because the momentum of the train will sweep your vehicle forward.
  • If your view is obstructed for 300 metres in either direction, do not attempt to cross the track until you are certain that no train is approaching. Be especially careful driving during bad weather.
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