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WilCo law enforcement rides train to catch people crossing tracks illegally

To crack down on drivers illegally crossing at railroad signals, Williamson County law enforcement rode along on a train to catch them in the act. (CBS Austin)

To crack down on drivers illegally crossing at railroad signals, Williamson County law enforcement rode along on a train to catch them in the act.

The Union Pacific rail line runs right through the city of Round Rock. On Thursday, Union Pacific Police and Williamson County law enforcement rode back and forth on the line to catch drivers illegally crossing at railroad signals.

"We want to try and keep people honest and make them realize the dangers they put themselves in," Union Pacific Police officer Alfredo Rodriguez said.

A deputy and a constable rode on the front of the train engine with Rodriguez as they slowly moved through the city, crossing to crossing. Rodriguez and the officers would see people illegally crossing and then have deputies on the side of the rode pull them over.

In about two hours they pulled over more than two dozen drivers. Most were from people passing when the lights were on, but stop arms weren't down. That's still illegal, before the train arrives and after.

"Flashing red lights mean stop," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says people illegally crossing happens every day and it's dangerous.

"It can cost them their life when they're trying to save a couple of seconds for a train to go by," Rodriguez said.

That's because the train is very heavy and can take up to a mile and a half to come to a stop if it's going 55 miles per hour.

One conductor on the train said he's hit two pedestrians in his career. For some people, that takes its toll.

"Sometimes it affects them to where some of the employees don't come back to work because the last thing they saw was the people's faces before they came into contact with them," Rodriguez said.

One driver pulled over only got a warning, but said he's using this as a learning experience.

"When I heard the train honking my heart stopped," driver Michael Mankarious said.

"Next time I'm just going to stop, period," he said.

The charge for illegally crossing is disregarding a railroad signal. It's a Class C misdemeanor and can lead to a $50 to $200 fine.

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