In attempt to reduce the number of accidents – both vehicular and pedestrian – on the city’s railroads, the Santa Barbara Police Department cracked down on people near train tracks during a two-day sweep on August 21 and 22. During the joint effort with the Union Pacific Railroad, 38 people were cited for trespassing on private property owned by Union Pacific, Lt. Paul McCaffery said.
The goal of the crack down, besides educating the public about train safety through example, was ultimately to prevent any train-related deaths, McCaffery said. Two pedestrians have already been struck and killed by trains this year. In 2006, three people were killed. “Naturally, we want to reduce that number,” McCaffery said. “We want no one to be killed by trains.”
Between 2001 to 2003, Santa Barbara had the highest number of pedestrian-train fatalities in the state, a ranking that has happily slipped due to increased enforcement, McCaffery said. However, California still maintains the highest rate of pedestrian-train fatalities in the nation. During the sweep, police also cited cars for going around gates at railroad crossings and apprehended an individual wanted for a felony charge.
The side benefits of such a sweep, McCaffery added, is eliminating crime that typically occurs near the train track, such as drug abuse and sexual assaults. For that reason, McCafferey says police regularly patrol the areas. “We’re down there citing people all the time,” McCaffery said. “That’s nothing new.”