Union Pacfic Railroad and Benton Police Team Up for Operation Lifesaver

Officers with the Benton Police Department, in conjunction with Union Pacific Railroad, participated in Operation Lifesaver on August 13th and 14th.  Operation Lifesaver’s mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property through a nationwide network of volunteers who work to educate people about rail safety.

One new twist on the campaign this year was the addition of handing out ‘rewards’ to motorists who were observed obeying the crossing guards.  Officers handed out food coupons and items provided by Union Pacific to those who complied with the law.
Even though the rainy weather made it harder, the entire first day was dedicated to only ‘rewarding’ those found to be complying with the law since these types of collisions also happen in all weather conditions.  The entire second day was spent handing out citations to those who choose to take a dangerous gamble and disregard the crossing signal.  
This is the fourth time Operation Lifesaver has been conducted in Benton during the past few years.  This year there were three motorists charged with Disregarding a Railroad Signal and another subject was charged with Driving on a Suspended Drivers License. This was an increase over last year’s campaign when there were no violators observed, but it’s still less than the five during the first event.  
According to Union Pacific officials, these operations have made a tremendous difference in the state and across the country and have resulted in an 85% decrease in crossing related accidents. Union Pacific credits local law enforcements efforts in educating the public about the dangers and by participating in Operation Lifesaver events such as this one.
One of the biggest problems on the rise now is pedestrian trespassing issues on railroad property and tracks.  We have had two pedestrian related fatalities just in Benton during the past ten years and our goal is to keep it fresh in people’s minds so that we don’t have any more.  For more information on Operation Lifesaver please visit:  www.oli.org