The issue of rail safety is being taken much more seriously this year after a tragic accident took the life of a teenage girl in August after her car was struck by a train near Weyburn.
The Weyburn Police Service traffic unit got some help from Saskatchewan Highway Patrol and Canadian Pacific Police for Rail Safety Week, September 23 to 29. During the week, 19 tickets were issued at railway crossings through Weyburn. Police said the tickets were mostly for use of cells phones while driving, disobeying stop signals and signs, and failure to wear a seatbelt. There were also seven warnings and five inspection tickets issued during the week.
Canadian Pacific Police services were out and about all across the CP system this past week educating the public on issues of safety around railway tracks.
"Basically, there are a couple of simple messages we want the public to understand," shared CP spokesperson Andy Cummings. "The first is when you approach a grade crossing, it's very important to look both ways and to obey active warning devices which would be gates, lights, bells, that sort of thing. When you are approaching a crossing that's not equipped with active warning devices be sure to slow down and look both ways. Trains can't stop quickly, the law states that motorists need to be the ones to yield to trains and that does require slowing down, looking both ways and listening for trains."
"The second key thing that we really want the public to understand is that railway property is private property and when people trespass on railway property they are putting their lives in danger. It's both dangerous and illegal. We've seen a trend where some people are taking selfies on the tracks or doing photo shoots on the tracks. People don't realize how dangerous that is, but tragically people are seriously injured and killed in instances like this. We've seen instances where people take selfies on the tracks and professional photographers also, unfortunately, take their clients on the tracks. I think they look at it, see that vanishing point of the rails going to the horizon and they think of it as a good backdrop. More importantly, professional photographers who engage in this are putting their clients in danger and risking arrest of their clients."
Cutting across the tracks at any place other than marked crossings is trespassing and illegal, Cummings explained.
"In Canada last year there were 141 grade crossing accidents that caused 19 fatalities and 21 serious injuries. There were 81 trespassing incidents that lead to 53 fatalities and 23 serious injuries," shared Cummings. "When we see those numbers we believe every one of those is preventable. Looking forward we want the public to understand that they can make safe decisions and that those decisions are right for their family and right for our train crews, who of course have to be involved in these incidents when they occur and it can have a real impact on them as well."