WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 17, 2013, 06:05 PM

“Officer on a Train” hopes to praise and warn drivers about trains

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) – Today’s train incident is the fourth in nearly two months in the Fargo area alone.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) – Today’s train incident is the fourth in nearly two months in the Fargo area alone.

To help keep motorists and pedestrians safe at railroad crossings, the city of West Fargo is taking part in a one day event tomorrow called "Officer on a Train".

You'll want to pay extra attention when you're around railroad crossings. A police officer will be riding with the conductor. If he spots you breaking a law he'll notify another cop who will flag you down to discuss the dangers. If you're being a responsible driver expect some positive reinforcement.

You can hear it before you see it. Before long, pedestrians and motorists get a visual clue there's a train coming.

Ralf Mehnert-Melond, Moorhead Resident: "We watch it way in advance and we see whether the arms are coming down or not whether the lights are on or not and then you just slow yourself down and wait at the gate."

While most people patiently wait for the locomotive to pass, that's not always the case.

Sgt. Kevin Pallas, Fargo Police Department: "There are a few fatalities a year in the Fargo-Moorhead area with individuals being struck and killed by trains either crossing the tracks not seeing the train or intentionally unfortunately taking their lives by train."

Including the close call this morning, law enforcement and fire crews have responded to four train incidents since the beginning of May. In West Fargo a man was killed after his pickup truck was broadsided by a train. In downtown Fargo there were two accidents. One man was hit and killed at a downtown railroad crossing. Another man's car got stuck on the tracks but he escaped the vehicle in time.

Sgt. Pallas: "Arms go down and people still sneak through looking one way and not the other way. It could be one train coming or two trains coming."

Since 2007 14 motorists have been struck and killed by trains and 9 pedestrians across the state of North Dakota. The North Dakota Safety Council hopes you'll "Look, Listen and Live" when you approach a crossing.