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letters jan 23

January 23, 2001

Letters to the Editor 1/23



Rail crossings are nothing to fool with



To the editor:

When the new year was only 11 days old, there had already been three crashes at railroad crossings in Maryland - one involving a car with a young driver. Trains cannot swerve or stop quickly and if you are not paying attention or if you try to beat these massive pieces of iron, you will lose.

When a train hits an automobile, the same force is applied as that of an automobile hitting a soft-drink can. The most recent incident occurred near the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum where a dedicated group of Maryland Operation Lifesaver presenters are working very hard to spread the message to "Look, listen, and live" at all railroad crossings and on railroad property.

The museum has admirably dedicated a portion of its operations to give presentations to school children, communities, and visitors to the museum by outfitting the certified Level I Operation Lifesaver Presenters with educational materials and expertise to try to educate the public in the dangers of playing on or around railroad property and trying to beat a train at a crossing.

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In one of the incidents that occurred earlier this week a teen-ager was involved. His life was luckily and miraculously spared. I commend him for his comment to the newspaper, "I'm going to make sure to stop at the train tracks, lights or no lights," in response to questions about the recent and potentially deadly railroad crossing incident near Thurmont.

Although a fairly new driver, Ryan is apparently pledging a responsible and safe philosophy, and healthy respect for trains and railroad crossings. As the state coordinator of Maryland Operation Lifesaver, I only wish all drivers - new and experienced - were as mindful of a train's power and inability to stop quickly.

While the general public often erroneously holds that warning devices at all crossings will prevent incidents and keep them safe, statistically this has proven to not be the case. Nationwide in 1999, about 50 percent of all incidents occurred at crossings with warning devices.

I frequently get reports of motorists going around gates, trying to beat the train despite its horns, whistles and flashing lights in Maryland. Last year in Maryland there were 14 incidents. Some lost this dangerous game - with drastic consequences. Ryan has the right idea, despite his young age. The responsibility is ours - the drivers, pedestrians and parents. Maryland Operation Lifesaver's volunteers go into the communities to try to make the citizens of this state mindful of the dangers of playing on railroad property and of challenging a train -whether it be racing alongside, or racing to beat it at a crossing.

Unfortunately, our citizens are also exposed to bad ads, commercials, video games, and various media depicting falsely the romance of a trestle, the excitement of racing with a train or soaring over it and are sending the wrong message to the citizens of this country. It takes the average freight train one mile - 18 football fields to stop - after he sees the vehicle or pedestrian and puts on the brakes. Trains cannot swerve or stop quickly and it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and our children.

Thankfully, this is one young life that was spared and no one to date has been killed in Maryland at a crossing. Our heart and hopes go out to these motorists and train crews in Maryland. Hopefully these events will be a valuable warning to other drivers - young and old - to look, listen and live.

Pamela Hartle, state coordinator

Maryland Operation Lifesaver

Baltimore

Shelter, animals say thanks



To the editor:

The staff of Antietam Humane Society Inc. wishes to express our sincere appreciation to our friends and supporters who contributed so generously to us during this past holiday season.

It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces at our open house, and your gifts of food, supplies and money will enable us to continue to provide quality care for the animals in our shelter for many months to come.

Special events are planned for this year, as we proudly celebrate our 25th year of serving the surrounding communities. Please watch for details and plan to join us for the festivities.

Candy Bennett

Executive Director

Antietam Humane Society

Waynesboro, Pa.

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