Maybe it’s the hectic pace of the day. Maybe it’s being distracted by a call on the cell phone.

 Maybe it’s the hectic pace of the day. Maybe it’s being distracted by a call on the cell phone.
For whatever reason, lots of drivers scoot out in front of trains even when crossing lights are flashing and bells are ringing.
Independence Police and the Union Pacific on Tuesday reminded some of those drivers to just stop and wait a minute for a train to pass. Police issued 31 citations in about two hours where a UP spur line crosses Walnut Avenue and Noland Road.
“I think one thing people need to remember is that as soon as the red lights are flashing, you need to stop,” said Mark P. Wasko, senior special agent with the Union Pacific Police Department.
Even a short ride aboard the two locomotives used for Tuesday’s operation – from the Truman Depot to just east of the Sermon Center – shows a bit of the challenge. That line crosses 10 streets, eight of them without crossing guards or lights. Missouri has thousands of railroad crossings like that.
Officials said the crossing on Liberty Street – next to The Examiner – is a worrisome example of crossing concerns. People drive fast, and buildings there can obscure the view of an oncoming train.
The railroad promotes programs such as Operation Lifesaver – www.oli.org – and works with cities on operations such as Tuesdays to raise awareness and remind drivers and pedestrians to “stay off, stay away, stay alive.” Officials said these efforts always yield lots of tickets, but it’s unclear if the safety message is getting across.
“You know, it’s kind of like crime prevention. It’s hard to gauge,” Wasko said.
In 2008, there were 82 train-vehicle collisions in Missouri, resulting in 18 injuries and three deaths. In the first eight months of this year, 34 collisions resulted in five injuries, according to Jim Massey a presenter with Operation Lifesaver.
Another problem is people walking on the tracks – 14 injuries and seven deaths in Missouri in 2008 and 10 injuries and four deaths so far this year.