I have been first on the scene for several collisions while working as a trucker. Most of these have been minor, but several have been severe. One particular incident stands out. I was waiting at a train crossing in Saskatchewan when a small car failed to stop for the signal and crossed the tracks right in front of a fast-moving freight train. The result was immediate and gruesome.
I helped as best I could with the first aid supplies I had on me, and then emergency medical services quickly took over. The incident has stuck with me over the years. It has stuck with me for several reasons. One, it was sudden and shocking - the sort of thing a person does not easily forget. Second, it highlights how quickly things can go wrong when someone makes a mistake.
I don’t know why the car failed to stop for the train signal, but it looks like an example of a distracted driver. Given how often I see people driving while distracted, I think it is not a stretch to make this assumption. Even if I am wrong, many collisions are caused by distracted driving, and many of these have catastrophic unintended consequences. This last thought is powerful to me: so many lives are ruined and ended due to a moment’s inattention. People out for a drive likely have plans to get to their destination and are not planning on not surviving the trip. Here’s a poem I wrote about the incident approximately a year after it happened.