Over 2,000 vehicle- train collisions happened last year. While that’s a large number, safety has come a long way from say 1981 when there were over 9000 collisions reported according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
The Taft Police Department set up check points for 2 miles along the train tracks to make sure drivers were following safety laws related to railroad crossings.
While many people didn’t try to race and beat the locomotive over the crossing, several drivers didn’t wait for the lights and arms to finish raising and blinking before they crossed over.
“You’re not to go until those arms are completely up and the lights stop flashing, not as the arms are coming up and the lights are still flashing,” said Taft Chief of Police John Cornish.
He says the fine for crossing the tracks while lights are still blinking or arms are moving is about $160.
And even if there’s no train nearby and your car is on the tracks, it’ll cost you.
“For stopping or standing on the railroad tracks themselves whether the lights are on or off the citation could be upwards of $200,” said Cornish.
And there are also rules that conductors and engineers of locomotives have to follow that help keep drivers from the breaking the law.
Cornish says locomotive operators are required by law to honk their horn for people as they approach a railroad crossing.
“It’s an audio awareness,” said Cornish.
For safety, trains are not allowed to travel faster than 20 mph while driving through any town.
“Vehicles versus trains can happen,” said Cornish.
A driver is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in one involving just another vehicle.
“A locomotive engine is about 200 tons versus a vehicle which is about 1 ton,” said Cornish.
Cornish says their goal is not to pull over and cite people but to create awareness and ultimately help save lives.