The Canadian National Railway is reminding residents to practice caution near rail crossings in their community as winter driving conditions continue through the season.

According to Cst. Hank Neumiller with the CN Railway Police, these railways are vital to the province, running through every community.

"Railway safety is important for everyone because it affects everyone,” Neumiller said. “We all have to play a part in rail safety and keeping our communities and our people safe."

He added motorists should always be aware of their surroundings and be prepared to stop at all types of railway crossings. 

"It's an intersection like any other intersection and be aware that you might have to stop because a train can't," expressed Neumiller.

There are four types of crossings a motorist could encounter. 

The “crossbuck only”, which are on secondary rail lines and marked with an “X.” At these crossings, motorists must yield the right-of-way to approaching trains. The “crossbuck with stop sign” is another type, where motorists must stop before continuing over the tracks.

In higher traffic areas, a motorist will find a “lights and bell crossing”, which will tell drivers they need to stop for an approaching train with lights and bells. “Gated railway crossings” work similarly, with the addition of arms that descend to stop motorists from driving across the tracks. 

While speed is always a factor when it comes to safe stopping distance, winter road conditions can add another layer of challenges for Saskatchewan drivers.

"Snow sometimes covers advance warning symbols or markings on the road, so you maybe don't notice that there's a railway crossing coming up as you would in summertime," explained Neumiller. 

Even with both CN Rail and the Canadian Pacific Railway running through the city, there hasn't been any incidents resulting in serious injury or death in the past few years.

CP has had a couple of incidents with semi-trucks -- one carrying grain and another carrying diesel fuel -- colliding with trains on Highway 9.

Neumiller said CN has had a few minor incidents in the past few years with the most recent being at the end of 2020. 

"It was an incident where a driver maybe was going faster than they should've for the road conditions and were unable to stop. That's the key point. That just reaffirms what we're trying to promote here."