Railroad crossing safety awareness

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Summer officially starts June 21st. The North Dakota Safety Council would like people to mark that date as a starting point for creating more awareness about the dangers of rail crossings.

Railroad Crossing signs are there for our safety, but sometimes reckless driving can obscure judgement, especially in the summer with more people out and about.

Railroad crossing gates and signals flash lights and make noise, but sometimes people ignore the warning signs.

So the North Dakota Safety Council organized 'Operation Lifesaver' to help educate the public on safe crossing practices.

"As a pedestrian, you need to be heating the warning signs around the crossings. You should yield at those crossings, and be looking and listening for a train and only crossing when the gates are up and you don't see a train," says Serena Schmit, Operation Lifesaver Coordinator.

BNSF agrees.

"When the bells are dinging, the lights are on, crossing gates active, all of those are signs and signals that you should not cross the railroad tracks," says Public Affairs Director with BNSF Amy McBeth.
The NDSC says before you cross the railroad tracks make sure you look both ways before you walk, or drive over the steel rails.

"I always look both ways, I almost got hit by a train once when the light didn't come on, so I always, always, always look both ways," says Allison Bowdon, who's road tripping through the state.

Schmit says if you ride a bike you should walk it across the tracks, and when traveling in 'silent zones' you should always be on the lookout.

"If you see that yellow advance warning sign, or you see the cross walk, you need to be watching for a train and be prepared to yield," says Schmit.

Since January of 2012 there have been 116 vehicle-train collisions in North Dakota according to NDSC.

NDSC wants to lower that number with their 'Operation Lifesaver' program.

The NDSC wants to remind people to not be complacent around crossings and if you see tracks you should expect a train.