Railroad safety program urges residents to stop at crossings

Railroad safety program urges residents to stop at crossings

ZEIGLER, IL (KFVS) - According to Operation Lifesaver, about every three hours, a person or a vehicle is hit by a train. Union Pacific Railroad held a crossing safety program on Tuesday in Zeigler, Illinois in an effort to raise awareness about railroad safety.

Union Pacific Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety, also known as UP CARES worked with Operation Lifesaver for the joint event.

Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization is a non-profit that began in 1972, in hopes to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail crossings.

The Illinois State Police, Zeigler police department, Franklin County Sheriff's Office and assisted in the program as well.

Flying past a railroad crossing when the red lights are flashing, is what some residents say is the norm in Zeigler.

"People get up and they see both directions," Zeigler resident, Mark Turner said. "If they see the trains just a little ways down, they'll ride right over, it happens everyday."

For more than three hours, a train went back and forth along Route 148 and Route 149, where officers see which drivers would follow the law.

While some people stopped when they saw and heard the red warning signals, others kept going and were caught. The fine for disobeying the signal is $250 for the first offense and $500 for the second.

Two-hundred-fifty is also the number of deaths due to collisions of motor vehicles and trains in 2014 and 476 people died from trespassing on railroad property.

Locomotive engineer Kenny Holmes said he sees drivers run through the crossings all the time.

"I've seen a lot of vehicles make some silly mistakes," Holmes said. "And sometimes it don't work out for them."

The average train is 1 mile long and weighs 6,000 tons. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, it will take a mile or 18 football fields, to stop.

Locomotive engineers say it doesn't matter how slow a train could be going, the impact could be deadly.

"It's similar, like when a car runs over a soda can," locomotive engineer, Michael McGill said. "If one of these trains hits a car, it's total destruction of a car and all too often people die in these collisions. And even if you don't die, the injuries are very severe."

In total on Tuesday, officers stopped eight drivers for disobeying the signal, giving out four citations and four warnings.

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