Nebraska State Patrol participates in Rail Safety Week

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 5:10 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Nebraska State Patrol is participating in an international campaign to educate the public on railroad crossing safety.

As part of Rail Safety Week, NSP is joining hundreds of first responders and law enforcement agencies across North America for Operation Clear Track.

“We need to get out there and spread the word - the do’s and don’ts, the safety factors of train crossings,” said Lt. Dean Riedel, Nebraska State Patrol. “Our goal is for public safety. To educate and enforce those laws, and keep people safe, and help people that are traveling up and down the road to get them to their destination and back to their loved ones every single night.”

Troopers will keep a close eye on high-traffic crossings in Central Nebraska, like intersections on Highway 30 and Highway 34.

Riedel said when a train is close or chugging by, people should be at least 15 to 50 feet behind the railroad crossing. Drivers should only go over marked crossings and need to glance up the tracks before they cross to make sure nothing is approaching.

He said it’s important to obey all traffic signs and signals. When crossing arms are going down, Riedel said people shouldn’t try to drive or walk under them.

“You can’t beat a train. It’s hard to judge their speed," Riedel said. "Also you might not be able to hear their whistles or anything like that. If you’re relying on that one sense, you need to make sure you’re driving accordingly and taking all the precautions.”

People should never walk or stop on train tracks.

With harvest starting in Nebraska, Riedel said drivers need to be even more cautious.

Preliminary numbers from the Federal Railroad Administration show more than 290 people died at railroad crossings in 2019 alone. Riedel said practicing these safety tips could save a life.

In previous years, more than 500 local, state and federal organizations would stand at grade crossings to give out safety materials to drivers and pedestrians. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Operation Clear Track will be held as a virtual event on Sept. 22. Agencies like NSP are encouraged to post grade crossing safety and trespass prevention information on their websites and social media pages.

Rail Safety Week is an annual week-long event organized by Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) and Operation Lifesaver Canada. The goal is to “raise awareness of the need for rail safety education and empower the public to keep themselves safe near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way," according to OLI’s 2019 report.

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