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Students learn about safety at rail crossings

By Heather Latter, Staff writer
Fort Frances Times Ltd.

In conjunction with “Safe Crossing Week” (Nov. 1-7), students at J.W. Walker and St. Francis here are learning about how to be safe around trains, tracks, and at railway crossings as Safe Kids Canada and CN team up to get the message out.
“With the ‘Safe Routes’ and active transportation project that’s been going on, and also with the safety initiatives around King’s Highway and Keating Avenue with the OPP, we just thought it was a good opportunity to roll in the railway safety aspects of it all,” noted local CN Police Cst. Pete LeDrew.
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He noted J.W. Walker and St. Francis were chosen to participate in the national educational campaign because of their proximity to these areas, as well as the McIrvine Road railway crossing.

“It was kind of a perfect fit for the message that we want to get out this year,” LeDrew added.
He spoke to Grades 4-6 students at J.W. Walker on Monday, and will offer a similar presentation to that age group at St. Francis School on Friday.
“They are at an age where they are biking to school now because they are a little bit older, and they are more confident with biking and walking to school,” he explained, referring to why the Grades 4-6 students are being targeted this year.
One of the main messages Cst. LeDrew is stressing is the fact there only are the four legal ways to cross the train tracks in Fort Frances—McIrvine Road, the Portage Avenue underpass, Williams Avenue, and the overpass and crossing out by Pither’s Point.
“And the other big thing now is kids are wearing Ipods and MP3 players, so we are trying to remind them if they are crossing the street or tracks to take the headphones out of their ears for a couple seconds while they are crossing,” Cst. LeDrew remarked.
“Trying to keep pushing that message into them so if becomes a good safety habit,” he stressed.
He discussed with the students about walking their bike across the tracks, as well as to stop, look, and listen.
“Instead of looking for cars, you are looking for trains—to treat the crossing like an intersection,” he explained. “It’s called a railroad because it’s a road, too.
“Just like if you were out walking and were going to cross the street, you look both ways,” Cst. LeDrew continued. “We want them doing the same thing when they approach a railway crossing, as well.”
Not only are the students being given the safety message in their classrooms, but they also walk over to the McIrvine Road crossing.
“We wanted to physically take them out because it shows them a bit better what you are talking about,” Cst. LeDrew said.
“It’s part of the CN Police mandate to constantly remind kids and parents of the importance of crossing the railway tracks safely and studying the safety message about the railroad crossings.”
The Safe Crossing Program began in 2005 to keep Canadian children safe at railway crossings and away from trains.
This week, about 80,000 students in elementary schools across the country will learn about safety at railway crossings.
“Schools play an important role in teaching children about a broad range of health and safety issues and, for that reason, they are major partners in Safe Crossing Week,” Pamela Fuselli, executive director of Safe Kids Canada, said in a recent press release.
“To build a culture of safety, we must teach children early, and repeat teaching as they grow and develop skills so that safe practices and behaviours become second nature as they become teenagers and adults,” she added.
Here are 10 lessons Cst. LeDrew teaches to students to help them stay safe around railway tracks:
•Don’t take shortcuts
If you are not crossing at a designated crossing, you are trespassing, which is dangerous and illegal. Walk to a designated crossing.
•Cross at the right place and time
The only place to cross at railway tracks is at a designated crossing. Do not try to cross the tracks when the flashing lights have come on and the gate is down.
•Obey the signals
Never walk around a closed gate. At designated crossings, flashing light signals and gates activate only 20 seconds before the train reaches the crossing.
This is not enough time to cross the track.
•Make sure the way is clear
If you must cross railway tracks, stop, look, and listen before crossing.
•A train cannot stop as quickly as a car
A train needs much more time and space to come to a complete stop than a car needs.
And unlike a car, a train cannot swerve to avoid a collision.
•Never try to outrun a train
Trains are closer and are moving faster than you realize. The average 150-car freight train is travelling at 100 km/h.
•Stand 16 feet or five metres back from the rail
Objects can fall from trains. Stand at least 16 feet, or five metres, back from the tracks to avoid getting hit by falling objects.
•Check for a second train
If one train passes, make sure a second train isn’t following behind or approaching on another track.
Wait until the first train has passed and then make sure both tracks are clear before crossing.
•Never ride a bicycle over train tracks
The wheels can get caught in the track and you could fall off your bicycle.
Always walk your bicycle across the tracks when it is safe to cross.
•Do not trespass
Railway property is private property, and playing on railway tracks and bridges is both dangerous and illegal.
It is against the law to trespass on railway property.

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