Time To Abandon The Soda Can Analogy
For Train Derailments?
It may be time to abandon the misleading analogy that a train hitting a car is like a car hitting a soda can. It is true that the difference in mass between
a freight train and a car is similar to the difference in mass between a car and a soda can. The results of what a car looks like after being hit by a train
is very similar to what a soda can looks like after being run over by a car. The purpose of that analogy is to make drivers aware of just how dangerous it is
to be hit by a train and to hopefully inspire drivers to be very cautious and safety conscious at grade crossings. It is especially meant to try to disuade
drivers from trying to beat trains across grade crossings.
However, this analogy also seems to imply that a train will remain unscathed after a collision with a car. This is generally true. Passenges on a train
that hit a car generally don't even know they hit a car until the Conductor announces why the train has made an unscheduled stop. But, just as in rare
cases a tire can blow out after a car hits a soda can and might veer off the road and kill all the passengers, the collision between a train and a car
can also have tragic results as we can see from today's event.
Parking on railroad tracks is not an uncommon method used for committing suicide. The soda can analogy may be leaving people with the impression that a
train is a very effective method of obliterating their vehicle with themselves in it, which it usually is. But it also may be leaving people with the
impression that neither the train nor its passengers will be harmed by the collision. That usually is the case. But in the rare event where the train
is derailed by the collision, the results can be very very tragic. It may be time to cease using the soda can analogy for demonstrating the likely results
of a collision between a train and a car. Drivers should not be left with the impression that no harm ever comes to train passengers from a suicide that is
attempted in this manner.