When the bells chime and the gates go down...everyone knows that means stop. Railroad workers and law enforcement say the problem is...not everyone does it.
"People go around these gates and put their lives at risk all the time."
Casey Clark works for Union Pacific Railroad. They're joining forces with Harris County Constables to catch the lawbreakers. The plan is to have one of their men on the train and allow them to talk by radio with officers waiting near intersections. Constable Ronny Glaze explains:
"It's easier for them to put an officer on the train and have that officer radio back to the other officers out there. They witness the violation, we notify the officer in the area and he comes and makes a traffic stop."
They took reporters and cameramen on special demonstration ride. Within just a few minutes officers stopped three cars. Two were for stopping on the track, one was for trying to beat the crossing arms before they went down.
The ticket can cost anywhere from a hundred to 500 dollars, but Casey Clark who used to be a conductor says the ultimate penalty is paying with your life.
"People put their lives at risk for — what's it gonna take for a train to clear — a couple minutes maybe. And we can go on safely and everybody goes home to their family."
Eddie Esquival was in his car, stopped at the railroad intersection when I asked him what he thought of the new crackdown.Î¾
"It is a good idea because I always take my distance. I never never stop on the tracks never. Even if there's no train or anything. It's logical; it's common sense."
Eddie was about three cars from the train tracks so he didn't get pulled over. But other drivers weren't as fortunate, and officers plan to stop many more people who don't obey the law.
(Sound of horn and crossing bell)
Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.