Police, Union Pacific team up to combat car-train crashes in Stoddard County

Monday, April 21, 2008

DEXTER, Mo. -- If you had to guess how high up the list of train incidents Stoddard County ranks out of the entire state, what would you guess?

Second.

Stoddard County is second to only Jackson County in the entire state of Missouri.

There have been more than a dozen incidents involving trains since 2002 right here in Stoddard County.

Officials at Union-Pacific want to put a stop to that and that's why they brought Operation: Life Saver to Dexter again.

Union Pacific Railroad, the Dexter Police Department, Stoddard County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol joined together Thursday morning to increase awareness of the dangers posed by crossing railroad tracks with a train coming.

One of the reasons for the high number of incidents is because Stoddard County has the one of the highest amounts of train traffic in the state and is part of the second highest amount for all of Union Pacific.

Another reason is that people just aren't paying as much attention as they should be when they are behind the wheel.

Thursday's operation resulted in two citations being issued, both within the Dexter city limits. The train traveled from Dexter to west of Dudley and back several times, making notes of vehicles that crossed after the signals began to flash.

"[Issuing only two citations] is exactly what we want to see," said Union Pacific Special Agent Steve Ray. "It shows that people are paying attention and that's a good sign that things are going in the right direction."

Highway-rail crash statistics for 2006 indicate that Missouri had 58 crashes at public crossings. Six people were killed and another 21 seriously injured. This is a 6 percent decrease from the 62 crashes that occurred in 2005. Fatalities dropped by more than 65 percent from 17 in 2005 to 6 in 2006.

Figures for trespassing in 2006 show there were 24 incidents that resulted in 11 fatalities and 11 injuries.

Missouri has over 6,400 miles of track with 3,000 public crossings and 3,000 private crossings.

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