Savoy Curtis Road RR overpass.jpg

A Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus navigates the Illinois Central Railroad crossing while heading west on Curtis Road in March 2018 toward U.S. 45 in Savoy.

Listen to this article

PESOTUM — Illinois would love to lose its second-place standing in the nation in at least one category: railroad-crossing deaths.

In 2018, there were 17 people killed and 34 injured in more than 109 railroad-crossing collisions involving motor vehicles. Another 26 people were killed and 18 injured in trespassing incidents on railroad property.

Although Illinois State Police advocate the use of common sense at railroad crossings year-round, they are highlighting those numbers during Rail Safety Week, which begins Sunday and runs through Saturday.

District 10 Commander Capt. Louis Kink said troopers will be watching closely at various at-grade crossings and will ticket drivers who disobey the law.

Troopers will also hand out literature to remind the public about rail safety. That includes the No. 1 admonition — never to go around crossing arms that are down, even if you don’t see a train.

“We want everyone to pay attention at every train crossing, especially the ones without lights, take a moment and stop before the tracks to ensure it’s safe to cross them,” Kink said.

Kink reminds motorists that it is against the law to stop your vehicle on the railroad tracks and anywhere within the at-grade crossing, which is typically marked by white stop lines located on the pavement in advance of the crossing.

If it is not marked by white stop lines, the at-grade crossing extends from protective gate arm to protective gate arm.

It is also illegal for pedestrians to walk around a protective gate or disobey warning lights or bells.

Nationwide last year, there were over 2,200 railroad-crossing crashes resulting in more than 170 deaths and 550 injuries.

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).