Safety around TRAX trains is a two-way contract. The Utah Transit Authority has a responsibility to provide warnings for drivers, train passengers and pedestrians, and operators must maintain proper lookout. But the ultimate responsibility for personal safety rests with the individual. There's no substitute for personal vigilance.
To see what people do around trains, a Tribune reporter watched monitors at the UTA operations center that are connected to cameras at TRAX stations and street crossings. What he saw could be labeled something like "Stupid Human Tricks." He witnessed 79 potentially fatal incidents in two hours during the afternoon commuter rush.
People jaywalked across train tracks. A couple got off a train, then strolled along, talking to each other, oblivious to another, approaching train. Just as the man was about to step in front of the train, his woman companion pulled him back.
At crossings, drivers put the pedal to the metal to race through gates as they came down, or they drove around the gates.
Pedestrians walked around gates.
People danced in the area between the yellow warning line and the edge of the platform, unconscious of approaching trains. People ran in front of trains, trying to make it to the station in time.
Anyone who has spent any time on a TRAX platform knows that people don't pay attention to their surroundings, often because they are listening to music through earbuds or are engrossed in their cellphones. It's remarkable how many people stand beyond the yellow line at the edge of a platform, where they could fall into the path of a train or their clothing could catch on a passing car.
Under the circumstances, it's remarkable that only five people have died in accidents with TRAX this year. Those deaths prompted UTA to launch a broader safety campaign. Here are some tips.
• Always look both ways for trains. They can come from both directions at once, and sometimes one train masks another.
• Take off your head phones and don't make phone calls or send texts.
• Hop off your bike or skateboard.
• Hold smaller children's hands. Walk across tracks or onto the platform when it is safe. Never cross between train cars.
Common sense? Apparently not so common.
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