Union Pacific Railroad urges drivers to stop at crossings - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Union Pacific Railroad urges drivers to stop at crossings

By Julia Bruck - bioemail

(KFVS) - It is something you may have thought of or actually done try to beat a train at a railroad crossing.  If you lived, you are one of the lucky ones.  Last year Illinois ranked first for those who died trying to beat a train.  Heartland News went along for a ride with the Union Pacific Railroad.

On Wednesday, it is all aboard this Union Pacific Train.  However, before we could climb on the train, manager of operation practices Kevin Dawson handed us a few safety items.

"Got some nifty ears plugs," Reporter Julia Bruck said.

Once on the train we rolled through Jefferson County.  But not all drivers seem to notice our large locomotive approaching railroad crossings.

"There's a violation," Dawson said.  "The officer's got them."

The average train has about 100 cars and weighs 12 million pounds.  However, some trains that run through places like Benton and Marion, Illinois can weigh up to 40 million pounds with many more cars.

Therefore, to warn drivers the conductor sounds a horn several times.  As we approached a crossing, the conductor showed us how to sound the horn.

The train we rode typically goes thought crossing at about 50 miles per hour.  To stop the train it can take up to a half a mile, while for larger trains it can take up to a mile to stop.  So, if your car is caught in the middle of the tracks there is a good chance you could be hit.

"Obeying the signs, doing what the signs say, paying attention to the crossings if the train is approaching, stop let the train go.  It's not worth your life to try to beat the train," Dawson said.

Last year two people died, one in Marion and another in West Frankfort, when they tried to beat the train across the tracks.  Still, even if you make it across safely police may be waiting.  On this day, officers gave out 15 tickets to drivers who allegedly did not stop for oncoming trains.

"It's an expensive fine," said Illinois State Trooper David Sneed.  "I think it's like $250 and a mandatory court appearance."

Even at intersections that had no railroad crossing guards we still spotted people not yielding to an oncoming train.  However, authorities say you are breaking the law if you do not stop at those types of crossings.

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