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Fresno police and Union Pacific Railroad team up for safety

Friday, April 12, 2013

Officials began a safety crackdown along the train tracks in Fresno targeting impatient drivers. The operation is designed to warn people about the dangers of taking on trains.

Dozens of drivers who made unlawful choices at railroad crossings learned their lessons with tickets Thursday.

It can be an expensive penalty, but police say it's keeping more Valley drivers safe. Fatal accidents are down more than 50 percent since these crackdowns began.

Union Pacific Railroad police had 15 extra Fresno police officers to help them enforce railroad crossing laws Thursday.

There was no shortage of impatient drivers who made impulse decisions that landed them tickets. According to Sgt. Anthony Dewall a common violation is one of the most risky.

Sgt. Dewall explained, "Once the red lights start to flash, the bells start to ring, I think it's a real common tendency to just kind of floor the gas."

The moment the red lights start flashing, it's against the law to cross, even before the crossing arms come down.

Action News cameras were rolling when many drivers and pedestrians tried to beat trains. In the video, watch as a white Kia crosses the intersection as the arm comes down.

Tim Souza with the Union Pacific Railroad police says the goal of the operation is not only to ticket rule breakers, but also to educate the public about the dangers of taking on trains. So far, their mission is working.

Action News reporter Sontaya Rose asked, "When you first started these operations, how many tickets were you writing and how many are you writing now."

Souza replied, "Approximately three years ago when we started to conduct these operations on a regular basis there were 100 cites per operation, currently we've cut that number in half."

In the video, you'll see two drivers were both pulled over at once for sitting on the tracks at a red light. It's one of the top violations at Valley railroad crossings.

Taking a shortcut over train tracks is a common but dangerous practice among pedestrians. Since the tracks are private property, police handed out some tickets to those who wanted to save time by skipping the public crossing for a more convenient route.

During the four hour operation 102 tickets were written just in Fresno. But, during the last enforcement crackdown only 39 tickets were issued.

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crimetracker, fresno police department, fresno county, fresno, local, sontaya rose
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