CN stressing rail safety

Now that students are back in class, local CN police officer Cst. Pete LeDrew is encouraging parents and guardians to make sure their children know about safely crossing the railroad tracks going to and from school.
Cst. LeDrew said late last week that parents should make sure their kids know where the safest and proper places to cross railroad tracks are, especially with people living on the north side of the tracks and the schools being on the south side.
He added parents also should make sure students are taking the buses to school if they’re supposed to be.
“There’s some growing pains at the beginning of the school year, but you just got to get out there and remind the kids that they can’t cut through trains or cut across the tracks,” stressed Cst. LeDrew.
“And when they are going over crossings, to be careful, make sure they look and listen for trains, and walk their bikes across the tracks,” he added.
Cst. LeDrew said the only three “safe” crossings in town are at McIrvine Road and Williams Avenue, and the underpass at Portage Avenue. Anywhere else is considered trespassing.
He added while education is a preferred strategy to enforcement, trespassers have been fined in the past—and will be in the future if need be.
“It’s just like everything else,” said Cst. LeDrew. “If there’s a part of town where there’s lots of speeders, you clamp down on the speeders. If there’s a high volume of trespassers, and you’re out there educating the public.
“Giving out tickets is kind of a last resort if they’re not gong to comply with the rules.”
He noted the threat of fines aside, there’s been some serious accidents resulting from crossing tracks and climbing over trains in the past—and that should be reason enough for people not to take their chances.
“But sometimes you’ve got to go the enforcement route—you’ve got to write some tickets before some people will learn,” Cst. LeDrew stressed.
He noted that since he and other local police officers have been going into schools in recent years, and promoting programs like “All Aboard For Safety,” “Safe Crossing,” and “Operation Lifesaver,” trespassing numbers have dropped locally.
“I was doing it every second year, but the schools have been so supportive of the programs that I’m pretty much in there every year now,” noted Cst. LeDrew. “It definitely has made a difference.
“I find it’s the best way to do it—just get down and talk to the kids,” he added.
The public school board already has contacted Cst. LeDrew about visiting its elementary schools once again this fall and winter, and he most likely will be visiting the separate schools, too.
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