The St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, Eunice Police and the Union Pacific Railroad Police teamed up for a safety exercise yesterday organized by Operation Lifesaver Union Pacific's Crossing Accident Reduction Education (C.A.R.E.) program.  They issued 22 citations for railroad-crossing violations.

Some drivers tried to beat the train yesterday, but they were unaware that a lookout officer was inside the train looking for any drivers crossing the tracks while the railroad crossing lights were still active or trying to drive around the gates.  One law enforcement official says the number of citations issued has gone done, but it's important to continue to educate the public.

Major Eddie Thibodeaux with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office says,

"We started conducting this exercise about six years ago and we have seen a significant drop in citations issued. Years ago, we would write well over 50 citations in one day. Now, 6 years later, we are writing less than 25. This means drivers are more cautious of the railroad crossings. One of the citations issued today was to a bus driver who failed to open his door while crossing the tracks. It is a requirement that the driver of any school bus, after coming to a complete stop, shall open the door of the school bus and leave it open while ascertaining that no train or other vehicle is approaching on the railroad track from either side and until immediately prior to proceeding over the railroad crossing. There are thousands of people killed every year because they tried to beat the train, or just weren't paying attention. Any wreck or accident that takes place at a crossing is preventable."


State law requires a driver to slow down to a speed reasonable for existing conditions, or stop if necessary, before entering the intersection.  Drivers also must yield the right of way to any approaching train, and you can drive on as soon as you determine it is safe to do so.

State law also prohibits anyone from walking on the tracks or railroad property.  The penalty for the violation ranges from $200 or 30 days in jail on the first violation.  The second violation is not more $500 or not more than 90 days and required to attend a court approved driver improvement course.