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Think You Can Judge the Speed of a Train?

Vintage Train -

Do you think you can tell how fast an approaching train is traveling just by looking at it?

A locomotive is huge. It is usually somewhere around 17 feet high and 10 feet wide.

Because of this a train appears to be traveling much slower than you think, and many drivers think they have enough time to beat the train to the crossing.

When viewing the approaching train from a slight angle at the crossing, the combination of the size and angle create an illusion. Parallel lines of the rails converging toward the horizon contribute to this illusion and may fool you into thinking the train is farther away than it actually is.

Remember, it is virtually impossible to accurately judge the speed of a train when these combinations of illusions are present. If you try to the beat the train, you will probably lose.

Crossing in front of an oncoming train is extremely dangerous and many people have lost their lives as a result.

Almost 95 percent of railroad fatalities are motorists at grade crossings, or people who have trespassed on railroad property.

You should also remember that driving around a lowered gate is always illegal. It does not matter if you can see a train or not.

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  1. Darlene Daphne Combs August 14, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Dear m gray,

    I do not believe that the speed of train can safely be judged by someone in the way of a moving train. The speed of a train depends on curves, hills, and coal or gas distribution. When judging the speed of a moving train one must have a instrument such as a police speed gun. I believe if you a instrument such as that. I believe the speed could be judged. Then you must into consideration the length and the amount of weight that is being pull. The instrument would have to calibrate the amount speed based on longitude and weight. This is my answer and I am sticking to my thought of if you can judge the speed of a moving train.

    Thank You, now go in peace.

    Darlene Daphne Combs, August 14, 2015, 10:25PM

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