Cracking Down at Railroad Crossings

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND--It's called a Crossing Accident Reduction Enforcement Excercise.   And it's designed to do exactly what it says.

Sgt. Rick Lewis, with the Midland Police Dept. explains, "To reduce the number of violations at the railroad crossings and to save someone's life."

Midland Police and Union Pacific Railroad team up two to three times per year in an effort to keep drivers safe, and make them more aware when they come to a crossing.

"What we're looking for is any violation that has to do with the railroad crossing.  We're even looking at the red lights and any other violations we see on the roadway," Lewis said.

The law states that you cannot stop within 15 feet of a railroad crossing.  So if you're caught on the track, even if there isn't a train coming, you just got yourself a ticket.

But that didn't stop some drivers along Garfield and Front streets, Tuesday morning.   Less than five minutes after setting up our camera, officers pulled over two vehicles for stopping on the tracks.   Something that Sgt. Lewis says, there's no excuse for, "The train can't stop for you.  You have to stop for the train.  So there's really not a good excuse for it."

Accoriding to Union Pacific, the main cause of railroad crossing accidents in Texas, is motorists that choose to disobey the warning signs.

Midland police say, this type of exercise has had it's desired effect, "We probably still have just as many railroad crossing related crashes, but I think there's fewer actual fatalities."

So what's the expected long term result?  To get people to think and drive smart.

According to Lewis, "If we can get one person to stop where they're supposed to or not stop on the tracks and keep them from getting killed, then we've done our job right there."

In all, 76 tickets were given out and three arrests made. 50 for disregarding crossing signals, being stopped on the tracks or stopping within 15 feet of the railroad tracks. The remaining tickets were for non railroad related offenses.