Canadian National and ISP encourage rail safety - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Canadian National and ISP encourage rail safety

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PERRY CO. -- Last year in Illinois, there were 120 train versus car accidents, 22 of which were deadly. Illinois State Police are teaming up this week with local authorities to step up their game against those who try to beat the train.

"They hear that whistle blow and they just speed up and just fly right through the tracks," Doug Swartz said.

Swartz, who lives near the railroad tracks in Tamaroa, knows how dangerous the crossings can be. 

It's habits like those the Canadian National Railroad and the Illinois State Police are working to stop.

"It's not about the individual ticket itself. It's about actually stopping that kind of behavior that leads to those kinds of results," said Bradley Rueter, a special investigator for the Canadian National Railway. 

The Canadian National Railway Police Service has a jurisdiction in 16 states in the United States and carries the same power as the state police in those states. Their main duty is to monitor CN property and make sure that safety is the utmost priority.

Rueter said the biggest problem is people trespassing along railroad property and ignoring crossing signals.

While the number of accidents seems high, things have improved through programs like Rail Safety Week and Illinois Operation Lifesaver.

"We've actually come a long way," Rueter said. "We used to have 12,000 incidents annually in the United States in 1972. Now we're roughly around 2,025 like in 2016."

Rueter said he carries safety handouts with him to inform the people he stops who are acting dangerously at crossings or on Canadian National property. He said education and awareness about the issue is everyone's responsibility. 

While a train might be an inconvenience, Swartz said no matter what delay it might cause, it's not worth your life.

"When they hear that whistle blowing and the lights are flashing, they need to stop. Just stop," he said.

As part of rail safety week, authorities will issue tickets to anyone they catch breaking the law including traveling around railroad crossing arms or ignoring lights and signals.

Rueter encourages people to visit and make the pledge to not only keep themselves safe but also others around them.

The "My Safety Pledge" is a safety campaign that is part of Canadian National's efforts to continue to decrease the number of railway related incidents in the United States and Canada.

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