Numbers have been released from Tuesday's Officer on a Train operation in Springfield. According to MSHP Sergeant Jason Pace, during the approximately 1 hour and 40 minute operation, there were 17 traffic stops, 10 citations, one warrant arrest and 12 warnings.
A Burlington Northern-Santa Fe two-car train moved through the center of Springfield today with law enforcement officers onboard. Others were stationed on motorcycles at railroad crossings to watch for anyone violating crossing laws.
Officer on a Train is a joint effort between the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, Operation Lifesaver, BNSF and the Springfield Police Department. The operation is being held as part of Missouri Rail Safety Week, and its goal is to increase railroad crossing safety.
Petros Haldoupis has been a conductor with BNSF for 14 years. He constantly sees drivers who are impatient and want to try to beat the train.
"The do not want to wait for us to go by," he says. "We've had so many close calls, and the thing is, we have no give. I mean, if we hit you--it's dangerous. It's really dangerous."
He’s never been in an accident, but he says there was a close call when someone went around a crossing arm.
MSHP Sergeant Jason Pace says there were 18 railroad crashes last year in Missouri with 10 injuries and three fatalities.
According to Pace, if you’re going to take a chance with a train, the train is typically going to win.
Joel Como, a locomotive engineer with BNSF, can't understand drivers' impatience.
"If they would just wait a minute, they'll get where they're going. If they're in that much of a hurry, I feel like they should have left 10 minutes earlier."
Pace reminds Missourians to not be complacent and to expect a train at any time of day, never go around railroad crossing arms, always cross at designated crossings and don't stop too close to the train. Stay at least 15 feet from the crossing.
And he says being on or around tracks is trespassing. Last year in Missouri, there were 11 trespassing incidents with six injuries and five fatalities.