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Increase of crossing incidents statewide prompt safety reminders from railroad police

NOW: Increase of crossing incidents statewide prompt safety reminders from railroad police

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — A 50 percent increase in railroad crossing incidents from 2017 to 2018 is prompting railroad police to remind the public about the dangers of railroad crossings.

Jeffrey Price, a special agent with the CN Railroad Police, says most people don’t understand the severe dangers behind common violations like speeding up in an attempt to beat a train, going around crossing gates, and trespassing on railroad property.

Findings from the Federal Railroad Association show that out of the top 20 railroad crossings in the state that have had the most incidents, six of those are in St. Joseph, Elkhart, and LaPorte counties. None of them are CN crossings.

Price warns the public that it takes a train a mile or more, or at least 18 football fields, to come to a complete stop.

And the weight ratio behind a train and a vehicle is 4,000 to 1.

“To put that in perspective, the weight ratio between your same vehicle and a soda can is also 4,000 to 1. So a train striking a vehicle is like a vehicle running over a soda can. It’s the same effect. The train is always going to win. So you always want to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination,” Price said.

Price noted a key tool to incident prevention that the public may not know about.

All crossings have a blue Emergency Notification System Sign. In addition to 911, anyone is encouraged to call the D.O.T number on the sign if an incident occurs on the tracks or crossings. The number will direct the caller to an emergency operations center for that specific railroad. The center will be able to quickly stop a train if needed.

Price says railroad police routinely enforce common violation, like people who are on railroad property can be charged with trespassing.

Indiana law also prohibits you from speeding up at a railroad crossing. Police can ticket drivers for going around the gates, or going through a crossing when the red lights are flashing.

Special Agent Price says that education is key to incident prevention. CN educates schools and even law enforcement agencies though Operation LifeSaver.

“Doing as much education and letting the public know that there is severe danger when it comes to railroad crossings and railroad tracks specifically. It’s a nationwide issue. And we’re doing whatever we can to really educate the public,” he said.

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