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New Illinois law cracks down on drivers who ignore grade crossing signals, gates

Illinois motorists who attempt to drive through a grade crossing when the gate is down or lights are flashing will see fines doubled under legislation signed last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Sponsored by Illinois State Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) and Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), the bipartisan legislation was drafted to deter drivers who ignore signals and gates when trains are approaching a crossing, the lawmakers said in a press release. The new law calls for fines to be doubled to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses of failing to stop at least 15 feet from the closest rail when an electric or mechanical signal device is activated or a crossing gate has been lowered, or when an approaching train is plainly visible. "Illinois ranked second in the nation last year with regard to rail crossing fatalities, and it is my hope that these new, steeper fines will make motorists think twice before making the foolish decision to cross railroad tracks when it is unsafe to do so," said McConnaughay. The commuter railroad Metra worked with lawmakers to get the bill passed. Motorists who ignored crossing signals and gates were involved in 140 crossing collisions, which resulted in 24 fatalities and 79 injuries, according to Metra.

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