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Traffic Tip: Know where and when to stop at railroad crossings

Jan. 14, 2012 at 3:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 13, 2012 at 7:14 p.m.


By Julian Huerta

This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code,

Sec. 545.252. All vehicles to stop at certain railroad grade crossings.

(a) The Texas Department of Transportation or a local authority, with respect to a highway in its jurisdiction, may:

(1) Designate a railroad grade crossing as particularly dangerous; and

(2) Erect a stop sign or other official traffic-control device at the grade crossing.

(b) An operator approaching a stop sign or other official traffic-control device that requires a stop and that is erected under Subsection (a) shall stop not closer than 15 feet or farther than 50 feet from the nearest rail of the railroad and may proceed only with due care.

(c) The costs of installing and maintaining a mechanically operated grade crossing safety device, gate, sign, or signal erected under this section shall be apportioned and paid on the same percentage ratio and in the same proportionate amounts by this state and all participating political subdivisions of this state as costs are apportioned and paid between the state and the United States.

(d) An offense under this section is punishable by a fine of not less than $50 or more than $200.

Why the emphasis on this particular traffic law?

Safety and drivers apparent lack of knowledge about this law is the primary reason for this particular traffic law tip being posted.

As you approach most rail road crossing arms, particularly where a crossing arm is present but not activated, you should notice thick white painted lines on the roadway before the train tracks.

These lines serve the purpose of keeping vehicles out of that painted area, regardless of whether the arms are activated or not. Why ?

A train typically overhangs the rails by several feet and if the train where to derail, that area would be a very unsafe place to be.

A traffic stop for this violation is as you can see a legal stop for an officer to conduct, and take whatever enforcement action is deemed appropriate. Many people are killed at train intersections across the country annually.

The Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit reminds you to drive safe. The life you save may be your own.

If you have a traffic law question, contact Sgt. Julian Huerta, Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.

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