Conductors urge extreme caution at RR crossings - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Conductors urge extreme caution at RR crossings

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - You've probably seen it happen - cars speeding up, trying to beat a train through a crossing.

Last October, Action News 5 told you about Mid-South police officers who are cracking down on such drivers.  Thursday, we found many of them are still putting themselves and you in danger.
Trains in West Memphis now go faster, literally, after their speed limit was recently changed from 20mph to 60mph.

The change means when you hear a train's horn and see flashing lights, it's time to stop.  But as our cameras witnessed, time and again, people don't stop.

At one crossing Thursday, we watched as four cars tried to beat an oncoming train.

According to Union Pacific special agent John Schumacher, when a train is traveling at 60mph, once a conductor sees you, there's not much he can do.

"You're going to save maybe five minutes, maybe three minutes," Schumacher said. "Is the rest of your life worth five minutes?"

In another instance, we watched as a woman crossed the tracks seconds before the train passed by.

"It's an optical illusion," Schumacher said. "It's coming at you at 60 miles per hour, and it almost looks like it's sitting still until it's almost on top of you."

Schumacher says the weight of a train hitting your car is similar to the weight of your car hitting a soda can.

It's not worth the risk, he often tells drivers.

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