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Drivers Ticketed For Stopping Atop Railroad Crossings

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A car parks appropriately at a railroad intersection in Plainfield. (CBS)

A car parks appropriately at a railroad intersection in Plainfield. (CBS)

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PLAINFIELD (CBS) — There’s a major crackdown on drivers who break the law at railroad crossings. It’s happening in suburban Plainfield, and if you get caught it’ll cost you plenty.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker has a word to the wise.

It may not sound like a big deal, but Plainfield police are dead serious about drivers who get caught up in slow moving traffic, then end up stopped within the white lines of a railroad grade crossing or even stopped on the tracks.

Thirty-one drivers were cited this weeks in about two hours at the crossing where Illinois Route 126 crosses the Canadian National Railroad tracks near Route 59.

Traffic Sgt. Eric Munson says one violator was unique.

“It was a gentleman checking his e-mail and/or texting,” Munson said. “A train would have hit his vehicle if it had come.”

During the afternoon rush, the traffic on 126 can slow to a crawl. If drivers aren’t careful, they can end up trapped on the tracks.

It may sound like a minor violation. But in 2005, a similar snarl in Elmwood Park caused a commuter train to slam into stopped vehicles trapped at a crossing. The cars were tossed about like toys, and 16 people were hurt.

But even if cars are simply stopped within a few feet of the tracks, the 3- to 5-foot overhang of the train can cause tragedy.

“That train’s going to hit you if you’re close enough,” Sgt. Munson says. “When a train hits yout, that’s a significant amount of crash force. That train is always going to win.”

The crackdown is timely. In the next year, the number of trains rolling through Plainfield will rise from about 20 to about 42 every day.

Violators will feel some pain. There could be fines of up to $500, plus $145 in court costs. And the offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days.

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