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The original item was published from 1/9/2017 11:30:00 AM to 1/9/2017 12:04:12 PM.

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Posted on: January 9, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Fines Double For Drivers Who Disobey Crossing Gates In 2017

Metra and the Geneva Police Department remind drivers that starting this year the penalties will double for those who try to cross railroad tracks after the grade crossing systems have activated.

Last year, the Governor signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code that increases fines for drivers who disregard railroad gates and warning lights from $250 to $500 for the first offense and from $500 to $1,000 for a second offense. The law became effective Jan. 1.

Illinois, which ranked second in the nation in 2015 for highway-rail fatalities, will now have some of the strictest penalties in the country for these types of vehicular offenses. Nearly 75 to 80 percent of vehicle/train collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices, including lights, gates and bells, according to Illinois Operation Lifesaver.

The legislation was initiated by Metra last spring as part of a larger effort to promote rail safety awareness and eliminate preventable injuries and deaths at highway-rail crossings.

Illinois has the second largest rail system of any state with more than 7,300 miles of track and more than 10,300 public highway crossings. In 2015, Illinois also had the third highest number of rail crossing collisions (140), the second highest number of rail crossing fatalities (24) and the third highest number of rail crossing injuries (79), according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Metra conducts Operation Lifesaver Safety Blitzes at train stations across the Chicago suburbs throughout the year, including 45 blitzes in 2016.

Operation Lifesaver is a national organization that works to educate and promote safe behavior near the tracks by offering free rail safety education programs. The organization's work is co-sponsored by local, state and federal government agencies, highway safety organizations and America's railroads.

News Release Courtesy Of Metra
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