It was nation-wide Rail Safety Week May 8 – 14, and Terrace to involved with the local RCMP and CN Rail police working together to raise rail crossing safety awareness.
The local RCMP detachment decided to tie in the campaign with its aggressive driver initiative taking place for the month of May.
RCMP Const. Trevor Mack said aggressive driving can be anything from speeding, unsafe passing to running stop signs. And this includes unsafe practices at rail crossings, such as coming to an incomplete stop, driving through red flashing lights or cutting under lowering barriers.
“Red means stop,” Mack said. “I hope through this that people will be more aware of the crossing laws and what is expected of them.”
Mack, and locomotive engineer Dean Bouvier, drove a locomotive through Terrace and Queensway, teamed up with additional officers stationed at rail crossings throughout Terrace, ticketing and warning drivers for unsafe crossings.
The rules around railway crossings for train drivers are no simple matter, says Bouvier.
In a rail yard, conductors have an obligation to wait 20 seconds after warning lights go on and barriers come down before crossing a public road. If a train is traveling at “grade” (around 56 km per hour) slowing down is not required, however. Crossing lights and barriers are triggered by a sensor to warn traffic of an oncoming train.
But not all crossings have lights and barriers so a conductor must always blow the whistle with two long, one short and then one more long blow, to announce a train’s presence at a crossing.
“It’s a lot of rules,” Bouvier said. “There are not always lights, sometimes traffic is protected with a single stop sign.”
Mack said cooperating with CN on safety campaigns will probably become an annual event.
“[It’s] all aimed at
reducing fatal crash and injuries on the highways,” he said.
Bouvier said CN has a particular problem with people cutting back and forth across its Terrace rail yard.
He said he has even seen people walking with babies in strollers across the rail tracks. CN Rail does want to fence the entire length of its rail yard to avoid people trespassing.
According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada in 2010 there were 261 crossing and railway across Canada, which resulted in 79 deaths and 47 serious injuries.