Local News Story:




Union Pacific Helps Law Enforcement With Rail Crossing Violations



The Union Pacific Railroad is joining with law enforcement officials in trying to remove Illinois from the top of a list they don't want to be.  


The state was number one in fatalities from vehicle-train crashes last year, when 26 people died.  The 147 total vehicle-train accidents was number two in the country.  Union Pacific's Manager of Operating Practices at the Salem yard, Kevin Dawson, hopes a combination of law enforcement and education can continue to bring down the numbers. "The weight ratio between a 12 million pound train and an automobile that is three-thousand pounds is the same ration between your automobile and a 12 oz can of soda," he says. "We know what happens to the can."


And Dawson says the trains can't stop for you, with the average mile long train taking more than the length of 18 football fields to come to a stop.  As a result, the consequences of trying to beat a train can be absolutely catastrophic. "They are 30 times more likely to die in a train-vehicle accident then they are with any other vehicle," he says. "They must obey the signs."


Dawson ads over 50-percent of the accidents occurred at crossings where there are lights, gates and bells.  State Trooper Marla Tolliver says law enforcement is serious about the problem. "We're out there to assist the public and keep our communities safe,"  she says. "Occasionally you need to hop on a train to look for violations... it's all worth it." Tolliver says prevention efforts include education and enforcement.


Police agencies involved in the special enforcement effort for the Life Saver train ticketed 16 motorists in Marion and Jefferson Counties who ignored the warning devices at a crossing and proceeded across the tracks in front of a train.  Tolliver said it was scary seeing the view of the violations for the first time from a train engine.