CHICAGO – For the fifth consecutive year, Metra, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois State Police, as well as local and federal agencies, are joining together to promote vehicle and pedestrian safety during Illinois Rail Safety Week.
During the week of Sept. 23 to 29, members of Metra’s Police and Safety departments as well as police agencies and Operation Lifesaver volunteers will conduct educational activities at Metra stations and enforcement activities at railroad crossings.
The Fox Lake Police Department also will be participating in Illinois Rail Safety Week.
Drivers and pedestrians who disobey railroad grade crossing and railroad property laws will be cited.
“Our intention with these enforcement activities is to remind people that their behavior is both dangerous and illegal,” Metra Police Chief Joseph Perez said in a news release. “Shaving a few minutes off your commute simply isn’t worth the risk.”
“The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police is pleased to be partnering with Metra during this, the fifth Illinois Rail Safety Week,” Highland Park Police Chief and ILACP Traffic Committee Chair Lou Jogmen said in the release. “Working together, we hope to enhance rail safety and to strengthen our safety culture throughout the state of Illinois. We’re encouraging our motorists and pedestrians to join us in making Illinois strong, Illinois safe.”
When crossing railroad tracks, motorists must always obey the law and be aware of their surroundings.
It is against the law to stop a vehicle on the railroad tracks and anywhere within the highway-rail grade crossing. Highway-rail grade crossings are typically marked by white stop lines located on the pavement in advance of the crossing, and if not marked by white stop lines, the highway-rail grade crossing extends from protective gate arm to protective gate arm.
It is also against the law for pedestrians to go around a protective gate or disobey warning lights or bells. In Illinois, fines for disobeying activated railroad gates start at $500 and increase to $1,000. The Illinois Secretary of State, upon receiving notice of a second violation, may suspend the offender’s driver’s license for a minimum of six months.
In 2017, there were more than 2,100 railroad crossing collisions involving motor vehicles nationwide, which resulted in more than 800 injuries and more than 270 fatalities. In 2017, there were more than 100 railroad crossing collisions in Illinois involving motor vehicles; these collisions resulted in 29 injuries and 25 fatalities, according to the release.
In addition, there were 46 trespassing incidents on railroad property in Illinois, which resulted in 26 injuries and 20 fatalities.
In 2017, Illinois ranked second in the nation in grade crossing fatalities and seventh in the nation in trespassing fatalities.
For information on Rail Safety Week, visit illinoisrailsafetyweek.org.