IMPERIAL — In an effort to heighten awareness about motorist and pedestrian safety on and around railroad tracks, the Union Pacific Railroad Police and Imperial Police Departments worked in partnership Wednesday to coordinate the UP CARES (Union Pacific Combined Accident Reduction Education & Safety) public safety event.
“We do these events periodically in an attempt to educate the public. Trains are dangerous, trains can’t stop, and the fact is that when an incident occurs involving a train, usually there is serious bodily injury or death. That is why our Union Pacific slogan is Stop, Look, and Live,” advised Union Pacific Railroad Special Agent Mike Brucks.
Throughout the day the locomotive ran back and forth from Barioni and Clark Street in Imperial, while Union Pacific and Imperial PD units were stationed at the four crossings to catch crossing violations and issue citations to violators.
“Clark Street is not a gated crossing, which means there are no gates at that crossing – all there are is flashing lights. When people see flashing lights at a railroad crossing, the law states that they have to stop and then may proceed when it’s safe to do so. A lot of the vehicles are just driving right through the Clark Street crossing and we’ve had complaints from our train crews about close calls along this stretch of road,” said Agent Brucks about the reason behind selecting the Barioni and Clark streets crossings to perform the operation.
When the train is about 250 feet from the crossing, the red lights flash and the gates come down. Several motorists were cited during the event. Penalties for railroad crossing violations can be as high as $350.
The trains travel at times up to 70 m.p.h. and a single car can weigh 130 tons. A train carrying 100 loads going 70 m.p.h. is moving roughly 13 million pounds and will take up to two miles to come to a complete stop, according to officials.
“A lot of people don’t understand that a train can’t stop quickly because the breaks won’t lock-up. The breaks are intended to make the wheels slow down since there is very little friction between the steel wheels operating on a steel track,” said Agent Brucks.
The UP CARES program has assisted in reducing Union Pacific Railroad crossing accidents by 37% since 2001.
“These operations would not be possible without the assistance of the local law enforcement and the community to get the word out,” Brucks said.