SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod. R. Blagojevich today signed a traffic safety measure designed to make Illinois’ railroad crossings safer by giving local governments the ability to use photo enforcement at rail crossings. The Governor signed Senate Bill 2865, sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Angelo “Skip” Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), which gives local governments authority to use photo enforcement to crackdown on drivers who go around lowered crossing gates. The legislation comes in response to an accident the evening before last Thanksgiving, when a Metra express train crashed into several cars trapped in rush-hour traffic at the Grand Avenue railroad crossing in Elmwood Park, injuring 16 people.
“Photo enforcement is a good way for the police to enforce railroad crossing signals and keep drivers safe. Now that drivers know they’ll be photographed if they go around lowered crossing gates, hopefully they won’t do it,” said Governor Blagojevich.
SB 2865 gives the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Commerce Commission the authority to work with counties and municipalities to establish a system of automated enforcement at railroad crossings. The system consists of a camera or cameras at a rail crossing that would capture pictures of vehicles and drivers that drive around lowered gates or stop on railroad tracks.
When a violation is recorded, the owner of the vehicle will be mailed a Uniform Traffic Citation. A violation of this provision is a petty offense, punishable by a $250 fine or 25 hours of community service for a first offense. A second or subsequent violation is a $500 fine and can lead to a 6 month suspension of vehicle registration.
“Going around lowered crossing gates is extremely dangerous. We need to crack down on the drivers that are willing to take that potentially deadly chance, and I am confident that photo enforcement will help local law enforcement prevent tragedies like last Thanksgiving’s in Elmwood Park,” said Rep. Saviano.
“No one was killed in the accident in Elmwood Park last year. We might not be so lucky next time. This legislation offers a proven method of reducing the number of motorists who cross railroad tracks against the signals, risking their own lives and the lives of others. I’d like to thank Governor Blagojevich for signing this important legislation into law. I have no doubt that it will save lives," said Sen. Harmon.
SB 2865 takes effect January 1, 2007.