JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – About every three hours, a person or car is hit by a train in the United States, so the push is on to educate drivers on rail safety. The Florida Highway Patrol has been cracking down on drivers who pull up too far and park on railroad tracks while waiting on red lights or at stop signs.
More than 60 violators were pulled over by troopers on Roosevelt Boulevard on Tuesday alone. The FHP called it an educational blitz that's more about educating the public than issuing tickets.
"(It) seems simple but these are very severe violations and when these collisions occur, in most cases they are fatal, so something we're trying to do (is) to be proactive," said FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan.
The crackdown came just a day after a Fernandina Beach man was charged with driving under the influence after driving around a train crossing arm and colliding with a CSX train.
He survived the incident but officials said many times, others are not so lucky.
The FHP said it's important for drivers to know that it takes trains a long time to stop. From the time a conductor hits the brakes, it usually takes a mile or further to get the train to come to a complete stop.
That's why Bryan says you should never stop your car on a railroad grade crossing while waiting for traffic to move.
"When you pull up to a crossing, you need to make sure you have enough space. When you stop, make sure you're able to clear the tracks before you proceed. Someone (could) come onto the tracks, think the person ahead of them is going to pull out (and) the next thing you know they're stuck straddling the rails," Bryan said.