Officials step up patrols along railroad crossings

LITTLE ROCK, AR (WMC-TV) - The next time you find yourself trying to beat a train across some railroad tracks, think twice - police are watching out for violators.

Local and state police all over Arkansas are stepping up their patrols along railroad crossings looking for vehicles that do not stop once the gates are down.

"Its stupidity to run a railroad crossing. These trains don't have forgiveness," Flarcell Tate of the Arkansas Highway Patrol said.

Not only crossing in front of a train dangerous, it is also illegal.

"A lot of people don't realize that its against the law to go around these gates or run the lights when they're flashing until they get a ticket," John Schumacher of the Union Pacific Railroad Police said.

Railroad officials say you are twenty times more likely to die in a collision with a train than with another automobile.

"If you get hit or your car gets hit by a train, it's the same thing as a Coca-Cola can getting hit by a car. They won't feel it in the engine," Schumacher said.

In most states, laws require drivers to stop at least fifteen feet from the nearest rail when warning signals are down.

Police say people often chance crossing in front of a train because they are either running late, on the cell phone, or they're simply thinking about something else.

"They have no excuse. They say, 'Well, I know, I just wasn't paying attention or just thought I could beat it,'" Tate said.

"That's inattention. As my grandpa used to say, 'You can't cure stupid,'" Schumacher said.

And officials say those stupid mistakes could cost you your life.

Law enforcement officials believe they have been able to cut the number of car/train collisions by about fifty percent in recent months, and they hope their continued enforcement of intersections will help that number go down even more.

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