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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Rethinking crossing safety

  • In 2012, there were 79 auto-train collisions in Louisiana, eight of those being fatalities.
    As part of Union Pacific Railroad's UP Cares Program, public safety officers and other officials were in Mer Rouge Friday showing local law enforcement a side of the tracks they do not usually get to see.
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  • They were also checking the tracks and equipment for hazards.
    "We want to show officers what we see from the train and observe automobile drivers and their behaviors at crossings," John Schumacher, Senior Special Agent Division Public Safety Officer with Union Pacific said.
    "A big problem right now is people trespassing on train tracks and not realizing it is against the law and they can be issued a citation," Schumacher continued. "People don't realize how fast a train is coming or how long it takes to get one stopped; they always think they can beat it.
    "There have been several 'near hits' in this area and we are concerned with the public's safety as well as our employee's safety."
    In Louisiana, there are laws regarding obedience to the signal of an approaching train as well as obstructing a crossing and if an engineer observes someone breaking these laws or trespassing, they can call in a report of the vehicle and often times, the driver will be ticketed. On the first offense of disobeying crossing arms or a signal that a train is approaching, violators may be fined up to $200 or placed in jail for not more than 30 days, or both. In addition, the person in violation shall be required to attend an Operation Lifesaver Course to be given by a certified Operation Lifesaver presenter within 180 after adjudication of the citation.
    Mer Rouge Mayor Johnny McAdams along with City Clerk Patti Gregory and Police Officer Chris Chunn were able to ride a train and see how locals responded to the lowering of crossing arms as well as the perspective of the train's engineer.
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