LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It can take a mile or longer for a freight train to stop at 55 mph. This is why law enforcement agencies around Calcasieu Parish decided to put together an ‘Officer on the train Detail.’
The detail involves giving out traffic violations to drivers ignoring the warning signals of an oncoming train. Officers hope to warn the public from facing something even more harmful.
“Trains can stop but they can’t stop quickly, so our ultimate goal is voluntary compliance so we get people when they see flashing red lights at a crossing to stop and yield the right away to a train," said Sgt. James Anderson with Louisiana State Police. “If you choose to ignore the flashing red lights at a crossing it can be up to a $200 fine for a first offense, up to a $500 fine for a second or subsequent offense, and if you’re caught trying to beat the train, it can be up to an $1000 fine. That is if you survive, because even if you survive, you still lose.”
Engineer Jason Bailey with Union Pacific Railroad said fatalities involving the train are not uncommon.
“When it happens, it happens your reaction time. I hate to say this, even after you hit somebody, it still takes a ways to stop depending on your speed and what you have behind you, it might take you three football fields to stop depending on your speed and everything," explained Bailey.
Sgt. Anderson says he hopes people will take rail warning signals more seriously.
Police involved in the 'Officer on the train Detail’ collectively wrote 47 tickets regarding railroad crossing violations.
Below are some safety tips that you can follow to prevent an accident:
- NEVER drive or walk around lowered gates
- NEVER attempt to outrun an approaching train
- NEVER stop your vehicle on a grade crossing waiting for traffic to move
- NEVER begin to drive across the tracks unless you can get all the way across
- ALWAYS remember a train can take a mile or more to stop
- ALWAYS know that the average train is three feet wider than the track on each side
- ALWAYS slow down and stop your vehicle prior to train tracks when lights begin to flash
If you would like to provide free Rail Safety Presentations for your school or organization you can click HERE.