But Do They Really Mean It?
Taking the train yesterday, I noticed posted in the car another sign warning passengers that it’s illegal to walk on the train tracks. Right beneath this, on the very same sign, is a caution that talking on a cell phone while walking on the tracks can distract you and get you killed. As you can see below (click on that picture for a larger view), it is the second of the two photos, the one that accompanies the warning about talking on your cell phone, that depicts a train hitting a pedestrian.
Here we have, built right into a single sign, the apparent ambivalence of railroad authorities about keeping pedestrians off the tracks. The two messages, accompanied by the two photos, seem to say, “Look, this is illegal, but we’ve resigned ourselves tot the fact that you still are going to walk on the tracks, so at least don’t talk on your phone while you’re doing it.” The fact that it’s only the picture accompanying the message not to talk on your cell phone that shows a person getting hit by a train just compounds the message that merely walking on the tracks isn’t actually all that dangerous.
I realize that both photos show the same fellow happily chatting away on his phone. In fact, it looks like they’ve pasted the same exact figure from the first photo into the second photo. I think this just complicates the message even further. I’d be interested to hear what you all think about what’s going on with this sign and with the two types of signs I talked about in “Make the Footpath by Walking”. Feel free to comment below!