Our opinion: Selma got lucky

Published 7:11 pm Sunday, April 7, 2024

On Monday night, a Selma man was very fortunate after his vehicle that was attempting to cross the railroad tracks on Union Street was struck by a Norfolk-Southern train. According to officials on the scene, the driver survived but was transported to the hospital with a leg injury.

For anyone to survive a collision with a train is a miracle. Even though the train was only going maybe 15 mph when it was crossing Union Street, it still can do a lot of damage if something happens to be on the tracks at the wrong time.

We can speculate what the driver was doing when the wreck happened, but we were not able to speak with the driver to know what was going through his mind. That being said, we hope that everyone will take a moment to review what we need to do when we cross the railroad tracks.

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If there are no lights or gates, it is best to treat the crossing as a stop sign. Come to a complete stop. Look both ways to see if any train is there, and then safely move across the tracks if it’s clear. 

It sounds simple to do. You’ve probably done it a million times, but if the one time you take it for granted is the time something happens, it could very well be your last.

Even if there are lights and gates, we also need to make sure that it’s clear. Who knows if the signal is functioning correctly? Take the extra time to look, listen and live.

And when the lights are active and the gates are down, please do not attempt to go around the gates or try to beat the train. It might be hard to judge how fast the train is moving. You might not have as much time as you think you do. Your vehicle might also stall on the tracks, and you are sitting there vulnerable. And if one train has passed, there might be another train coming behind it. 

We do believe that all crossings should have lights and gates. It is an added layer of safety for the general public to know whether it is safe to cross. We hope that this incident will encourage them to install lights and gates at this crossings, and all other crossings where there are not lights and gates need to be addressed.