Press release - Railroad Crossing Enforcement Operation

Published 3/17/2011 (all press releases for this day)

Jeri Williams
Chief of Police
Oxnard Police Department

R. Jason Benites
Assistant Chief

Scott Whitney
Assistant Chief



INCIDENT:  Railroad Crossing Enforcement Operation
DATE/TIME:  Wednesday, March 16, 2011 1600-1900
LOCATION:  City of Oxnard
 Brian Woolley, Traffic Coordinator
 (805) 385-7749


On March 16, 2011, from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M., officers from the Oxnard Police Department Traffic Unit joined forces with special agents from the Union Pacific Police Department and deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during an aggressive enforcement operation targeting railroad crossing violations. The operation also targeted violations of pedestrians trespassing on Union Pacific Railroad property between intersections.

During the operation, officers observed over 60 violations. Officers issued citations to 64 drivers who violated various railroad crossing violations. Of those violations, 25 vehicles were observed stopping on the tracks, most for significant amounts of time. Several additional vehicles were observed driving over the railroad tracks, under the descending railroad arms, while trains were approaching. Fifteen of the drivers cited did not have a valid driver’s license. Three pedestrians were arrested for trespassing on railroad property.

In 2009, California was ranked #2 in the United States for highway-rail grade crossing collisions, with a total of 121 collisions. Out of the collisions, 91 were fatalities, 61 were trespass-related collisions with fatalities and 42 were trespass-related collisions with injuries. The Oxnard Police Department investigated two railroad crossing collisions in 2010. Fortunately, there were no deaths as a result of those collisions. On average across the United States, a collision between a train and a vehicle or pedestrian occurs every two hours.

The public is reminded that trespassing on Union Pacific Railroad property, or any railroad property, is a misdemeanor offense. It is also life-threatening endeavor considering the speed and size of any train. Anyone found trespassing on railroad property is subject to arrest. In addition, it is illegal for any pedestrian, bicyclist or vehicle to travel around or under a railroad arm once the red warning lights and alarm are activated and the gate arm is closed or closing.

Listed below is some general rail safety information:

  • Freight trains do not travel on a predictable schedule; schedules for passenger trains change. Always expect a train at every highway-rail intersection.
  • Train tracks are private property, no matter which railroad owns them. Trains have the right of way 100% of the time — over ambulances, fire engines, cars, police and pedestrians.
  • If there are rails on the railroad ties, assume that the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks "rusty."
  • A typical locomotive weighs approximately 400,000 pounds or 200 tons. When 100 railcars are added to the locomotive, the train can weigh approximately 6,000 tons. The weight ratio of an automobile to a train is proportional to a soda can and an automobile.
  • A train may extend three feet or more outside the steel rail, which makes the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the rails themselves.
  • Trains cannot stop quickly. It is a simple law of physics: the huge weight and size of the train and the speed of the train dictate how quickly it can stop under ideal conditions. A 100-car freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour will need more than a mile to stop — that's approximately 18 football fields — once the train is set into emergency braking.
  • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Trains are sometimes pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled. This is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
  • Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale "clackety-clack." Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think.
  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
  • Never walk down a train track; it's illegal and it's dangerous. By the time a locomotive engineer can see a trespasser or a vehicle on the tracks, it is too late. The train cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
  • Remember: Rail and recreation do not mix!
The Oxnard Police Department will continue to conduct these types of operations to educate the public about railroad safety. More information about railroad safety and Operation Lifesaver can be found at or
For any questions related to traffic enforcement or these types of operations, please contact Senior Officer Brian Woolley at (805) 385-7749 or via e-mail at


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   Mar 2011