Fri May 9th, 2008 at 08:20:26 AM EST
This diary isn't even intended as funny. It is about deadly accidents.
On my railway, in recent years, there has been an upswing in accidents involving young people that resulted from the utter disregard of basic safety rules. While even with the upswing, we are speaking of the behaviour of a microscopic subset of the total youth population, thus the outer end of a spectrum, there is still some underlying development here.
At the time I was in my last year at the highschool, there was a much-reported case of a girl who climbed a railway freight car out of dare, and got struck by high voltage from the catenary. Five years earlier, a railwayman tossed off a drunken college student from a car roof just in time, but was struck himself. There were one or two other cases in the nineties.
However, from 2002, there have been 11 cases of such daredevils struck by high voltage from the catenary, eight of them climbing on car roofs and three climbing on the outside of footbridges. They were of ages between 9 and 22.
Another type of accident is new. Girl gets off the train, crosses the tracks long at a narrow angle rather than perpendicular, without ever looking around. So she doesn't see the incoming freight train from behind her – nor does she hear it, or even the final emergency honking by the locomotive driver: she has headphones on, with loud music. (One of these headphone accidents happened in my hometown 2–3 years ago.)
The for me most shocking foolish behaviour accident (and skip this part if you're sensitive!) started in the station of my hometown about a year ago. Two girls, who apparently ignored the loudspeakers, boarded an empty train making a service stop en route to the final station on the line. When they noticed their mistake, instead of waiting for the train to reach its destination and taking the train in the other direction, or pulling the emergency brake, they decided to jump.
The trains do around 100 km/h on that section. But, instead of jumping onto the grass on the outer side of the track, they decided to jump on the other side, onto the track of the opposite direction. And that not from a door opened with the emergency opener, but a window (e.g. even higher).
They jumped, fell on the tracks, were severely hurt. The eyewitness was the driver of the express train oncoming from the opposite direction and rolling over them.
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I have no scientific study for a well-founded answer as to what could be behind this increase of such accidents. But I venture a guess that children became somewhat more sheltered, and some parents pay less attention to hammer basic safety rules into them at the earliest age.
At any rate, my company reacted to the latest case of a 16-year-old being struck after climbing on a freight car roof (on 23 March; the boy wanted to view a car race, he survived but with 2/3 of his skin burnt) by issuing a plea to educators (both parents and teachers) and information material sent to all major media.
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