Friday, May 11, 2001

Message: Stay off the tracks

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        CARLISLE — As far as trains go, this one was rather small — just a locomotive and a passenger car.

        But its message to motorists was huge: Don't gamble at railroad crossings.

[photo] Brian Williams, 14, gets a lecture from Hamilton policeman Don Taylor, who caught Brian taking a short cut on railroad tracks near Pleasant Avenue.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, sheriff's deputies and police officers from about a dozen jurisdictions between Cincinnati and Dayton on Thursday issued two citations to motorists as part of a crackdown on drivers who ignore warning lights and gates at railroad crossings. They witnessed eight violations. One motorist was also cited when he tried to evade police.

        This special train, carrying police officers, made the round trip from Cincinnati to Dayton. There were also police officers and cruisers at crossings along the way ready to issue citations to motorists who ignored the lights and gates as the train approached.

        The effort was part of Operation Lifesaver, a nationwide public education program dedicated to reducing injuries and fatalities at highway railroad crossings.

[photo] Signs warn people away from train yards.
| ZOOM |
        “I think it's (important) for the public to be aware that when the lights start flashing, they need to stop,” Carlisle Police Officer Doug Lanier said. “Even if the gates are malfunctioning, contact the police and do not go around them.”

        Thursday's route, dubbed “Trooper on the Train,” left Queensgate about 9:30 a.m. and went through Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Montgomery counties.

        “This type of enforcement effort allows troopers to witness motorists attempting to beat the train,” said Capt. Daniel E. Kolcum, Wilmington district commander of the highway patrol. “By enforcing our state traffic laws at highway-rail intersections, we are making Ohio's highways safer.”

        There were 133 motor vehicle-train crashes in Ohio last year, killing five and injuring 66 people, the patrol said.

        Unlike other vehicles, trains can't maneuver or stop quickly. And it's dangerous to try and beat a train, officers said.

        “You cannot perceive how fast the train is traveling or how far away it is,” Officer Lanier said.

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