Railroad deaths spiked last year

FRESNO, Calif.

More than 120 people died in California and some of those fatal crashes happened in the Valley.

Trains are a constant sight in the city of Fresno, but they can pose a serious danger if you are caught on the tracks.

Wednesday, railroad officers and the Fresno Police Department cracked down on people who ignore rail safety laws.

Tim Souza with the Union Pacific Police Department said, "When we come out and do these enforcements it's not only about writing citations, but it's about education the public about the dangers of stopping on the railroad tracks, or trespassing on railroad property."

Action News was with Special Agent Tim Souza as he patrolled Union Pacific's property. Souza says people need to take extreme caution when near the tracks.

"People's perceptions is when a crossing arm goes down, the train is going to take 10-15 minutes to clear that crossing," said Souza. "When in reality it only takes 2 to 5 minutes."

Trying to beat that train is a decision that could turn tragic. This past January, a Fresno City College student was killed on the tracks, trying to make it to class.

Last November, two people were killed within a week of each other after police said they ignored the crossing arms and were struck.

It's incidents like these, officers want to prevent. As a part of Wednesday's event, Fresno police officers patrolled a busy intersection.

Michael Buessing with the Fresno Police Department said, "You see people stopping on the railroad tracks. They fail to stop at the first limit line and proceed across the tracks thinking it's safe to cross when actually it's not and they come to rest on the railroad tracks."

Officers hope enforcement events like this will remind drivers and pedestrians to think twice next time they're at a crossing or near a train. They say they're decisions that could save their lives.

Officers issued several citations to drivers. The fees can range up to $400.00. Law enforcement conducts these efforts once a month.

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