With four of Airdrie's major roadways intersecting the railway, residents are reminded this week to stay safe when crossing the tracks.
Sept. 21 to 27 is Railroad Safety Week, which “aims to raise awareness of the tragic consequences that can occur as a result of preventable crossing and trespassing incidents,” according to Salem Woodrow, spokesperson with Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway.
“Given the number of preventable trespassing incidents this year so far in Canada and the U.S., the week really serves as an important reminder to be safe, to be aware and to be vigilant around railway tracks and property,” she said.
According to Woodrow, more than 100 Canadians are seriously injured or killed annually as a result of a trespassing incident. In the United States, a person is struck by a train every three hours.
A press release from Alberta RCMP indicated there were 35 rail crossing incidents in Alberta in 2019, with 11 resulting in serious injury or death. The release stated the province saw the second-highest number of total railway crossing incidents in Canada in 2019, with 20 per cent of all incidents nationwide.
“An incident can have tragic consequences for all concerned, including the family, the friends and the community of an individual,” Woodrow said.
Whether a driver, cyclist or pedestrian, Woodrow said everyone has “a stake in community safety” when it comes to railways.
“They need to be aware of the dangers associated with railway crossings and railway property," she said.
Trains may carry loads that are wider than freight cars themselves or may have loose chains and straps to secure the loads. For that reason, it’s imperative to stand or park in designated safe areas near crossings.
Woodrow said motorists need to be aware of rail crossings and abide by traffic laws when crossing lights are flashing and arms are down.
“This means ensuring when they’re coming up to a railway crossing on the road, they’re looking both directions, they’re seeing if the crossing is activated and then stopping for the activated crossing,” she said.
Drivers should never park or stop on railways, and tracks should not be crossed if a train is coming. Due to their large size, trains may appear farther away and slower than they actually are.
Pedestrians must only cross railways at a designated crossing, Woodrow stressed. Doing otherwise is not only dangerous, but also against the law.
“Railway property is private property,” Woodrow said. “Crossing anywhere other than a designated location is trespassing, which is illegal.”
Trespassing is a federal criminal act under the Railway Safety Act, she said, and carries maximum fines of $5,000 to $10,000 with the possibility of imprisonment. In most cases, she added, trespassing results in a ticket.
In an effort to drive home the importance of railway safety, CP has several tips available online at cpr.ca, along with a game designed to test rail safety knowledge.
“It’s an interactive game aimed at children to teach them about rail safety,” Woodrow said. “At the end of the game, they get a conductor badge that they can colour and fill out.”
CP will also release safety videos on social media, which can be found by following @CanadianPacific on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Read more from AirdrieToday.com