I Was Lucky. This Time.

Dear Petroliance,

I am alive, and I am thankful.

On Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 9:34 am I was driving westbound on C_____ Rd in P________, Florida. As I was approaching the Railroad tracks at D______ the lights started flashing to indicate an approaching train. I came to a complete stop as the gate arms started descending, and was dismayed to see an eastbound motorist trying to slip through at the last moment.

It was a tanker truck, and it was so late slipping through that I saw the gate arm hit the top of the truck. Right on the tank. The tank that holds whatever highly flammable chemicals you transport.

Yes, it was one of your trucks. I could clearly read “Petroliance” and the phone number (800-226-7011) painted on the back of the tank. Unfortunately I could not make out a truck number.

I am appalled. I sat there as your truck was crossing the tracks, and I flashed back, remembering the accident that happened fifteen years ago just a few miles to the south. That day a train hit a tanker that was sitting on the tracks, and the ensuing fireball fried five people doing nothing more than sitting in their cars waiting for the train to go by. You know, the people who had obeyed the signals and stopped. Of course the tanker driver died that day, too.

Here I was in that very vulnerable spot, first in line nearest the tracks, watching the signal gate hit your tanker.

Did your driver think the five minutes saved was worth the risk? I’ll bet he did. I’ll bet that driver fifteen years ago did, too. But I know that six families and one company (that was likely sued into oblivion) don’t think so.

And neither do I.

Perhaps it’s time to have a refresher course in railroad safety for your drivers, particulary the one that crossed the railroad tracks on eastbound C____ Rd at 9:34 am this past Thursday.

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