Police Crack Down On Railroad Crossing Runners

Tuesday, February 26th 2008, 10:45 pm
By: News On 6

If you haven't tried to race across a railroad crossing while the lights are flashing red, you've probably seen someone who has. Tulsa police officers cracked down on railroad crossing runners on Tuesday. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports it's not only illegal, it's also dangerous.

At a railroad crossing near 11th and Lewis on Tuesday two vehicles slowed down for the red lights, and then sped across before the train got here. Had their timing been a little worse, they'd be dead tonight, instead of just facing a ticket.

A Union Pacific train took on some media passengers to show how dangerous it is when they cross one of the eight railroad crossings in Tulsa. Normally, trains don't go that fast in Tulsa, but, they can go 60 miles an hour, pulling 18,000 tons of weight. If that hits a vehicle, it's over.

"We've had three fatalities over the past couple of years. All total, we've had 62 crashes in Oklahoma in 2006 involving trains," said Officer Craig Murray with the Tulsa Police Department.

The problem is generally people will try to beat the trains, rather than just wait for it to pass. Maybe they don't realize how fast the train is moving or how hard it is to stop.

Drivers caught trying to beat a train were stopped by police and issued a $120 ticket. Officers wrote 12 tickets on Tuesday. They wrote only 27 all of last year.

One ticketed woman told police she was confused and didn't know what to do, because the train was still around the corner. Police say the red lights and arm clearly mean stop, no matter where the train is.

"Had her timing been a little off, it couldn't have stopped, steel on steel can't stop; that's why the lights are red," said Cpl. Dave Crow with the Tulsa Police Department.

People tend to think a lot more about their schedule than safety. They get impatient waiting for a train to cross. But, officers say a little bit of patience will not only save you money, but, maybe your life.

Just the engine of a train can weigh 290,000 pounds. That's about the same weight as 72 cars. You know the damage just one car can do to your vehicle, imagine 72 cars hitting you all at once and remember, that's just the engine. Police say it's so easy to just stop when you see red, flashing lights.