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If you’re a North Bay commuter, you may have already noticed an increased police presence on the roads near railroad crossings.

Authorities are cracking down now on drivers blocking the crossings. When passenger rail service begins shortly on the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), they want to prevent avoidable but tragic auto-train collisions.

Get ready to be stopped, potentially

The San Rafael police are issuing tickets to commuters in the heavily congested downtown sector. That portion of the highway is in close proximity to the 43-mile SMART route that runs from Santa Rosa down to San Rafael. There are 60 railway crossings on the line.

It’s estimated that over 30 rail trips will be on the schedule during the workweek from Sonoma to Marin Counties. Another 10 trips are planned for the weekends.

During one busy commuter period, a San Rafael officer issued a $237 citation to one motorist, stating that he was “stopped on the tracks.”

With the SMART board of directors expecting to announce the soft launch version of their rail service any day, this is an especially timely campaign. While nobody wants to pay tickets that cost hundreds of dollars, most commuters will admit it’s preferable than being battered by a train while stopped on the tracks at a railroad crossing.

Police instruct drivers to stop their vehicles before they enter the railroad crossing. Traffic back-ups can leave motorists stuck on the tracks for several light signals, placing them in danger of being hit by trains.

Be proactive about safety

Most auto-train collisions can be avoided by motorists remaining proactive about their safety around railroad crossings. All motorists need to be mindful of the danger train-vehicle collisions present.

Yet, one does not have to be the unlucky motorist stuck on the tracks during a collision in order to be injured in an accident with a train. The force and breadth of the debris field after a high-impact collision between a train and a vehicle stuck on the tracks can be deadly for anyone in the vicinity of the crash.

If you have been involved in an accident with a freight or commuter train in California, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries or damages you suffered as a result of the collision. A Bay Area personal injury attorney can review and evaluate your claim and provide guidance for moving forward.

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