Overcoming Barriers

Barriers baffle me. I didn't knock this one off the hinges doing 98 like I did at the Museum of Science. It came down gently, but firmly, and landed on top of the van. At a railroad crossing.

First, know (Mom!) that I was in NO danger! We regularly criss-cross train tracks; the towns we normally travel through are on the commuter rail. I'm very conscious of the flat barrier: the thick white line painted on the roads well out of reach of the moving barrier's slice. I've given driving lessons to the boys on the importance of these lines. They'll be driving before we know it. (Wow, those are my dad's words -- they just fell out in his voice, so I guess I better leave them!)

This incident occurred on a funny right-hand turn. At a major intersection, there is a little ramp that shoots off the main road for right-hand turns. I've driven on it often but never when a train was approaching. I saw the lights flash so I stopped before the flat white line barrier. Then out of my rearview mirror, I saw motion, and a split second later, I heard the gently thud. I double-checked that I was safe -- because if necessary I could reverse doing 98. I was safe. I patiently waited for the train to go and for the barrier to lift. And it did.

I have been back to check that white line in relation to the barrier. The ramp has double white lines: one before the barrier and one after the barrier. Apparently, the second one is bolstered by the firm grip of the barrier.

Thankfully the boys weren't in the car with me. If they doubt me when the smoke alarm woman gets on her "fire, fire" kick, panic would've struck at the sight of a railroad barrier landing on the van.