Nonprofit group uses rail safety week to raise awareness

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:10 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – We’re in the midst of rail safety week. One nonprofit group is partnering with agencies across two states to help educate the public on rail and train safety.

With more than 6,000 miles of rails across the state, train and rail safety is no joke to law enforcement.

Officers like reconstructionist Kenton Kossan are the first to respond to railway incidents when they occur.

“The Minot community, I think we have a pretty healthy respect for the railroads and trains in town. However, regionally we do see a lot of grade crossing collisions and most of those grade crossing collisions occur at locations that aren’t protected,” said Kossan.

Between 2010 and 2020 in Ward County alone there were 22 grade crossing incidents with most of them taking place in rural areas, according to Kossan.

North Dakota has experienced three train-related fatalities in the past year and Valarie Fischer, coordinator for Operation Lifesaver of the Dakotas, said they are working to get that number even lower.

“The number may be low, but it is of incredible significance to the families that have been involved in that and it’s absolutely devastating when trying to work with the public on awareness and education,” said Fischer.

The Nonprofit group works to educate the public through interaction and by partnering with agencies and families of victims across the Dakotas.

According to the North Dakota Safety Council, 20,000 Americans have been killed or seriously injured due to unsafe behavior around railroad tracks since 2010.

You can get involved with Operation Lifesaver of the Dakotas online on the group’s Facebook page here.

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