Police board locomotive to catch dangerous drivers


Kendall Downing

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ill. - You see the lights, you hear the chimes, but do you stop?

Police said they've had a number of problems with disobedient drivers at two Franklin County, Illinois railroad crossings, one on Illinois Route 148 and one on Illinois Route 149. Monday they did something about it, boarding a locomotive to see it first-hand.

The test train got on the move Monday, with Illinois State Police in tow.

"This is dangerous behavior," said Joey Watson, with Illinois State Police.

Kevin Dawson is Public Safety Manager with Union Pacific Railroad.

"We want people to understand when the lights are flashing and the whistle is being blow that people should stop and remain stopped and not try to go in front of the train," said Dawson.

Dawson said drivers zoom to beat the train more than you'd think.

"At least one time during the trip most of our crews will experience something that is near-catastrophic that scares them to death," said Dawson.

During the ride Monday, a yellow car crossed as our locomotive approached. But it got worse, a second cream-colored sedan pulled out too as we were seconds away.

"You're not going to win against the train," said Watson.

A ticket for disobeying the flashing lights will set you back $250 for the first offense.

But police said you're also taking a chance on your life. A typical train with a load takes a mile to come to a complete stop.

During the four-hour enforcement, police stopped eight drivers for crossing the tracks while the lights were flashing.