Change your train of thought about railroads

September 27, 2018

This week, the Canadian National Police Service is looking to “change your train of thought” about railroads.

Illinois’ fifth annual Rail Safety Week began Sunday and ends Saturday. RSW has recently been adopted by Canada and all U.S. states, making this year’s efforts the first international campaign urging motorists and pedestrians to drive and walk safely around railways.

RSW is an active initiative to help prevent tragic accidents from taking place on any railroad tracks. The goal is to educate and inform people who might not have otherwise known traffic laws, said Brandon Myers, police inspector for CNPS’s central division.

Many people might not know basic railroad safety laws, such as the illegality of walking, running, playing or taking pictures on tracks.

CNPS unveiled some reminders on Tuesday to help Kankakee drivers and pedestrians stay safe.

Local CNPS officials, accompanied by Kankakee police, county and Amtrak officials, unveiled a sidewalk stencil Tuesday afternoon at the CN tracks on Station Street, just south of the Kankakee Depot. The stencil states, “See Tracks? Think Train,” in an aim to promote safety to those who view it, cautioning the reader that a train is likely not far away.

“We’re just trying to spread the message,” Myers said. “Safety is our overall priority for us and Amtrak.”

In the last 10 years, there’s been more than 100 incidents in Kankakee County of train collisions involving either motorists or pedestrians, Myers said. Rail Safety Week is all about promoting change to reduce these numbers.

The Station Street stencil is the first of many CN plans to release within Kankakee County.

After unveiling the stencil, a sign signifying the county’s support of rail safety, signed by Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe, was presented as well. CNPS then ended the event with an education and enforcement blitz throughout the county from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Rail Safety Week’s aim is to educate the public, no matter their age.

CN officials, including risk mitigation officer Chris Handley, will promote railway safety at the elementary level Wednesday and Thursday in Peotone with Lil Obie, a small replica of a CN train, allowing children to learn about rail safety in a harmless environment.

CN will provide educational games and activities for students at Peotone Elementary School from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m. and again from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m. on both days.

Throughout RSW and every other day of the year, CNPS is dedicated to keeping the public safe around railroads. They’ve collaborated with Operation Lifesaver, the largest rail safety organization in the U.S., to bring mysafetypledge.com, an online pledge anyone can sign to show their support for staying safe amid train tracks.

To report unsafe behavior on railway property, call CN police at 1-800-465-9239.

Anyone who would like to learn more about rail safety can visit the CNPS website, cn.ca, or the Operation Lifesaver website, oli.org.

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