In 2008, Louisiana ranked fifth in the nation for highway-rail grade crossing collisions and sixth in the nation for railroad fatality crashes. This is why the Louisiana State Police, the Monroe Police Department, and the Union Pacific Railroad Police teamed up to enforce traffic laws at highway-rail grade crossings in Monroe today. During the three hour detail, officers issued ten (10) citations for offenses that include failure to obey traffic control devices at railroad crossings, two (2) child restraint violations, one (1) seat belt violation and two (2) other citations for other offenses. The Union Pacific Railroad Police Officers also issued several warnings to pedestrians trespassing on rail road property.
While the enforcement detail is an important part of traffic safety, it is equally important to educate the public about highway-rail grade crossing safety. In 1972, when Operation Lifesaver began there was an estimated 12,000 collisions each year between trains and motor vehicles. In 2008, that number had been reduced by 80% to 2,391 collisions. The goal of Operation Lifesaver is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at places where roadways cross train tracks and on railroad right-of-ways.
Trains cannot stop quickly and it is the responsibility of the motorist to yield to all train traffic. It is illegal to stop, pass or shift on railroad crossings. It is also illegal to go around crossing arms or pass through red flashing signals. Absent these “active devices”, motorists must still yield the right-of-way to trains.
For more information on railroad safety you can go to laoperationlifesaver.org or call the Troop F Public Information Officer at (318)345-2810 to request an Operation Lifesaver presentation.