Proposed Law Tries to Prevent Trains from Blocking Traffic
Drivers already have to confront many issues on the roads. Aggressive drivers, pedestrians jumping out in front of them, and possibly even glare from the sun. But, trains? Is that really an issue for most drivers? In Oklahoma it is. It is such a problem in fact, that new legislation is being proposed that will hold train operators and companies accountable if they engage in certain types of behavior. Namely, this includes stopping for long periods of time in main thoroughfares, essentially blocking traffic in the area.
“Anything that blocks the road for a significant period of time is a hazard and could cause accidents,” says Clayton T. Hasbrook of Hasbrook & Hasbrook. “If a driver is traveling down the road and approaches a stopped vehicle unexpectedly, they may not have time to stop. In the worst of cases, this could cause a chain reaction, resulting in a multi-vehicle crash.”
In other states, the idea may sound preposterous. For Oklahomans, it is a reality. Several studies have been done surrounding one area where it is a particular problem, in downtown Edmond. Trains have been found to stop here for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or even longer. It is for this reason that the state is trying to crack down on trains stopping and blocking traffic for an extended period of time.
It was Oklahoma Speaker of the House, Charles McCall that proposed the new legislation. If passed, it will allow cities, sheriffs, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to ticket trains with a hefty fine up to $10,000 if they stop and block traffic for any longer than ten minutes.
Of course, trains have to stop sometimes and so, there are some exceptions to the law. These include if the train is stopping to allow an oncoming train to pass by on the same tracks, if there is a mechanical failure, an accident, or in the case of a storm. However, the legislation will prevent trains from being able to stop for unknown reasons, and for long amounts of time.
The bill has not been passed just yet, as it continues to be debated in the House of Representatives. Until then, drivers should watch out for trains and be prepared to stop at any time.