Train Wrecks Increasing | VideoChris Williams | 10/23/2012
With 19 already this year, local and federal leaders hope they can cut down on the number of accidents. When the guard arms come down and the horn blows, it`s important that drivers come to a stop. But that isn`t always the case.
"We`ve had a number of crashes with trains here," said Captain Alan Billehus with the ND Highway Patrol.
In the last three years, there have been 76 train-car accidents in North Dakota, and eight of those crashes have been in Williams County.
"There`s a focus on education and raising public awareness about what actions motorists are to take under the law," Billehus said.
When the guard arms do come down, North Dakota state law says your car has to come to a complete stop between 15 and 50 feet away from the tracks. If you don`t there are a couple of fines you might have to pay.
"It`s a big violation. I think it`s a 50 dollar citation, and it can be up to three points. It`s just the danger of all of that is important too. We just don`t want people doing that," Billehus said.
It`s important to slow down or come to a stop, when you are approaching railroad crossings. Billehus says not doing so is what leads to accidents.
"Anytime they come up to railroad crossing stop and look for a train and listen for a train. It sounds really simple, but people simply don`t do it and they get struck by a train."
A train traveling at an average speed takes about one mile to slow down, and they have the right of way at crossings. A group called operation life saver focuses on teaching people, of all ages, how to safely cross the tracks.
"We give presentations to preschoolers, or we will talk to drivers Ed classes, professional drivers or law enforcement," Billehus said.
And their most important message is be prepared.
"You need to always expect a train. They can come from any direction at anytime. Even if you see one train there could be a second train coming from the opposite direction," Billehus said.
Trains can travel up to 80 m.p.h.