Beating a Train

The idea of getting stuck at a railroad crossing is enough to make some people hit the accelerator instead of the brake. But trying to beat the train can be deadly, and deputies are watching those crossings more closely than ever.

A train is winding through Tallahassee at about 30 miles an hour. The engineer says cars try to beat the train every day at almost every other crossing. He's hit one before.

"We came across and hit the vehicle. She got out in time, but it was scary because we didn't know if anyone else was in the vehicle at the time."

Friday, Leon County deputies were riding the train too, hoping to nab drivers who disregard crossing lights and barriers. Deputies say it's tough to catch motorists in the act, unless tragedy strikes.

This sting stemmed from a crash last fall, in which a truck trying to beat the train on Gearhart Road failed. And a five-year-old boy was critically injured.

"It's not like any other crash you work. When you work something as massive as a train colliding with a car, the amount of carnage is something you just can't imagine."

On this run through Tallahassee and on to Capitola, not one car bolted through a crossing. The engineer says that has never happened before.

"It saves maybe two to three minutes. It's not worth it. It's not worth it to try to beat the train."

The Leon County Sheriff's Office worked with CSX Railroad to set up the sting, and Tallahassee motorcycle officers were standing ready to ticket cars.