There’s a TV ad running at the moment, which shows a young girl approaching an unmanned level crossing on foot. She steps around the barrier, looks to see if a train’s coming, and gets mown down.
I have a problem with this. Trains are big, noisy and conspicuous – and often very fast – but they don’t just leap out at you instantaneously! Hell, if you’re close to the line you can feel them coming.
While I’m aware that idiots do get themselves killed on level crossings (Darwinism in action?), you’d have to be pretty dumb to do so. If the barriers are down at an unmanned crossing, it means – obviously – a train is coming, but the lag between the barriers descending and the train arriving can be several minutes, often longer (I’ve sat at crossings for as long as 10-15 minutes before the train put in an appearance). This is a safety factor, to give everyone a chance to get clear. It’s not an invitation to make a run for it.
But, what if you’re tempted? The girl in the TV ad looks for the train – presumably she didn’t see one – or hear or feel one – and if not she could have crossed in perfect safety. If the train isn’t in sight, or hearing, it can’t possibly kill her a split second later – not unless it’s travelling faster than sound, or even light.
So, while I’m not saying that assorted numpties should take chances on crossings, getting themselves creamed in the process (how can they not see or hear a goddamned train, ffs?), I am saying that if we’re going to have public information ads like these, we need a degree of realism, because nonsense like this will just cause its target audience to laugh derisively – and quite possibly become future victims, because the idiocy of the scenario so dilutes the message.
It’s quite easy to do – just reshoot that segment and have the girl run straight out without looking – that’s realistic; it’s what kids do, a lot. Having her check carefully and timorously, and yet still get killed isn’t.