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Even With Cops Present, Drivers And Pedestrians Try To Beat Trains At Crossings

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A Metra railroad crossing (credit: CBS)

A Metra railroad crossing (credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – When it comes to train crossings, Metra says close calls happen way too often.

On Thursday, police set up stings to stop them, CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports.

If a train is barreling your way, common sense dictates you stay off the tracks.  But not everyone has common sense.  You’ve probably seen video of people running in front of the train.

Longtime Metra passenger Carol Boltz sees it all the time.

“All the time,” Boltz said, “It makes me angry.”

It frustrates Metra, too.  So, for International Grade Crossing Awareness Day, the rail agency got the word out about those gates you see and those bells you hear.  The rule is simple.

“When they start coming down, or when the ringing of the bells begins, vehicles should stop. Pedestrians should stop,” Metra Officer Henry Palm said.

During a sting at a Tinley Park station, he had to make a driver stop and back up away from the crossing.

During that same sting, CBS 2 observed cars and a bike press to beat the train, even as the gates were on their way down.

That’s hardly everything.  Metra conducted a near-miss experiment and reviewed video from crossings from a 24-hour period.

It shows all kinds of bad behavior, such as a  man dangerously close to the tracks, and clip after clip of pedestrians walking or running to beat the train.

“It’s not worth the ten seconds,” Metra Spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.

Last year, a woman who had a child in her arms tried to outrun the train.  They didn’t make it.

Tickets for trying to beat the train can run up to $500. During the Tinley Park sting, police verbally corrected bad behavior.  At some of the others, they wrote tickets, and even arrested a driver who tried to get around the gates

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