Union Pacific Police and local Ward County law enforcement officers are monitoring railroad crossings in Monahans after reports of more than 10 train crashes this year alone.
Officers spent the day patrolling the area from the inside of trains. The event was apart of Union Pacific’s Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety (UP CARES) program.
Officers riding inside the trains had the chance to watch driver behavior at railroad crossings. Other officers were stationed nearby crossing locations to see if motorists ignored signals, warnings, or even stopped their cars on the tracks.
Clinton Fielder, Deputy Sheriff of the Ward County Sheriff’s Office, says many cases he has investigated has involved crashes involving trucks and trains. “There’s a lot of CDL drivers out here and some of these crossings were not made for truck tractors with Semi trailers “, Fielder said.
The deputy also says the oil boom is bringing more Semis to the Basin, and many drivers don’t realize their oversized loads are too large at railroad crossings.
“These people are maybe pulling up to the designated stop point on stop signs and they’re not realizing that their load or trailer is still on the tracks “, he stated.
Officers say trucks aren’t the only problem.
“The main issue is people thinking they can beat the train “, said Jesse Profit, Union Pacific Police Officer.
“Maybe they see a train in the distance or the gates are down and they have that thought cross their mind, ‘Oh I can beat that train’ we want them to remember that it’s not worth the risk.”
During an interview the UP Officer said that a train traveling around 55 mph, hitting a standard sized car, is like hitting a soda can.
While people may think they have enough time to cross the track while a train is coming, Proffitt says it can take more than a mile for a train to reach a complete stop.
Officials hope that monitoring railroad crossings more closely, they can keep tabs on drivers who aren’t following crossing rules, ultimately preventing more crashes in the future.