Last month, the Austin Police Department held a press conference to draw attention to the dumb (and illegal) things drivers do near railroad tracks, like drive around the gates, park on the tracks, etc. At the press conference, APD promised they would be cracking down on motorists who park on the tracks, first by giving warnings and then by writing traffic tickets.
Police officers are making good on that promise. Beginning this month, they’ve been handing out warnings to drivers who park too close, or on, the tracks. It’s kind of a no-brainer not to park on the tracks, but you might not know that it’s actually illegal to be within 15 feet of the rail. If you’re closer than that, the crossing arm may be coming down right on your car if a train approaches.
APD’s warning includes some lifesaving tips:
When you’re in a car:
Be careful turning across train tracks — it’s where more accidents happen.
Never race a train to a crossing — you will never have a second chance if you lose and even it you tie, you lose.
Expect a train on any track at any time — if a train goes by at a multiple track crossing, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching in either direction.
Don’t anticipate lights or creep out at rail intersections — and never, ever drive around the crossing gates.
When Capital Metro’s Red Line begins full service, the police will start ticketing. That’s the other important bit of info on the warning: if you do it again you might be shelling out $200!