During Rail Safety Week, area officers are riding shotgun on Union Pacific trains to join Operation Lifesaver. As Fox 25/48’s Jessica Bringe explains, the effort aims to demonstrate the importance of exercising caution when approaching railroad crossings.

The Union Pacific railroad wants to remind drivers that they’re not faster than a speeding train.

If we’re barreling down the track we don’t expect people to be out there and that’s when stuff happens when the unexpected shoots out in front of you.

Last year in Wisconsin the railroad says there were 36 crashes with three fatalities. So far this year that number is down with only seven crashes and two fatalities.

Unfortunately it’s once every three hours somebody on foot or in a vehicle gets hit by a train in the United States and every one of those is preventable.

During Operation Lifesaver, Eau Claire police, the sheriff’s department, and the railroad handed out warnings to drivers not obeying the flashing red railroad signs.

This is something that happens all the time, I think as a private citizen you probably see it yourself, hopefully you don’t commit it yourself but you do see it yourself and unfortunately a lot of that doesn’t get reported.

Going at a speed of 55 miles an hour, these trains take about a mile to stop and weighing in around 19,000 tons, the railroad says they can do a lot of damage.

In a train and car crash it’s 20 times more likely you’re going to be killed than in a car crash, so we want to make sure we never cross paths.

For the first year – the railroad is traveling with a vehicle involved in a train crash that killed a mother and her child. This particular driver did not stop for a flashing red light and thought she could beat the train.

The extra effort reminds drivers to ditch distractions – pay attention – when they see tracks. Think train.

This is real life of what happens out there. It’s scary.

In Eau Claire, Jessica Bringe, Fox 25/48 News at Nine.

The top counties in Wisconsin with crashes in 2015 are Brown with 4, with Baron, Dane, Rush, Grant and La Crosse counties all with two each.