CHICAGO (CBS) — Metra safety was the topic of conversation in Buffalo Grove on Thursday, after a new report ranked Illinois third in the nation for train crashes.
Police and Metra safety officers teamed up a the Metra station in Buffalo Grove to host an “Operation Lifesaver Station Safety Blitz” from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. The goal is to cut down on the number of collisions between vehicles and trains.
Last year, there were 140 such collisions in Illinois, the third most in the nation. Those crashes resulted in 24 deaths and 79 injuries.
“We have to make the public aware – through education, engineering, and enforcement – how dangerous it is to be out by the railroad tracks, near the railroad tracks, because every three hours someplace in the United States, someone’s struck by a train; either a pedestrian, or in a motor vehicle,” Metra Police Lt. Thomas Donegan said.
Illinois has the second most railroad crossings in the U.S., so the risk here is especially high.
Donegan said Metra regularly reaches out to students of all ages, community groups, police and fire departments, bus companies, trucking firms, and others about paying close attention at train crossings.
“These trains are very unforgiving. You’ve got a 12 million pound train going 55 miles an hour. It’s going to take a mile or more to get the train stopped safely,” he said.
Metra public safety coordinator Larry Green said the engineers who operate the trains often can see only about a quarter mile ahead of the train, so they don’t have time to stop the train safely by the time they see a car or person on the tracks.