Rail Safety Week: Operation Lifesaver concerned about the uptick of near-miss incidents at crossings

Local News

A vehicle or a person is hit by a train every three hours in the U.S.

As we mark rail safety week this week, the North Dakota Safety Council is reminding you of the need to be more cautious at rail crossings.

“When you have the guards rails down, the lights flashing, the sirens making noise, the train horns blasting that should be an obvious message that the train is approaching,” coordinator of Operation Lifesaver of the Dakotas, Valerie Fischer said.

Fischer cautioned, “that is not the time or place to walk around the guard rails or to cross but to wait.”

Despite a decrease in numbers, two people in North Dakota died in rail crossing accidents in 2020, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

However, there is an increase in near-miss incidents, which is when pedestrians or vehicles cross tracks as trains approach.

That’s why Fischer urged the public to be more patient and prevent accidents from happening.

“Railroads are not able to stop quickly,” she said. “They’re not able to swerve and they always have the right away,” she said “when you see a track, you need to think train, and you need to do what you can do to stay safe, both as a pedestrian and as a vehicle.

As fall and crop season approach, Fischer said she is particularly concerned about truck drivers and farmers who have longer vehicles and are trying to get across the rails.

She said that “takes an extra enormous amount of time and so they have to be careful and they have to really plan.”

The Rail Safety campaign is a week-long event that is raising awareness about the importance of safe practices by railroad users. Click here for more information about this public awareness campaign.

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