(Opelousas, Louisiana – August 12, 2012)
“Any wreck or accident that takes place at a (railroad) crossing is preventable,” according to St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Captain Eddie Thibodeaux, who also serves as the SLPSO’s chief railroad crossing accident investigator.
The SLPSO was one of three Louisiana law enforcement agencies participating with Union Pacific Railroad and the railroad-sponsored Louisiana Operation Lifesaver Program in an operation designed to lure motorists to cross railroad tracks in advance of a single locomotive loaded with police observers. Tickets cost those drivers caught $200 apiece – that is, unless it was a second offense, which upped the fine to $500 or 90 days in jail. In all, 15 citations were issued.
In league with UPRR, SLPSO and LAOL were the city police departments of Eunice, LA and Opelousas, LA. Another significant participant was the Union Pacific Railroad’s Police Dept., which often organizes such events through their “CARE” (Crossing Accident Reduction Effort) Program.
Proof of the influence the railroads’ lobbying local law enforcement came in the words of St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz as he echoed one of Operation Lifesaver’s self-coined slogans in saying “Please obey all crossing signs and look, listen and live!”
Operation Lifesaver dumped the more familiar “Stop, Look and Listen” for the “Look, Listen and Live” phrase decades ago, and when the less well known slogan is used, one can see the fingerprint of the railroad concocted, financed and directed Operation Lifesaver, Inc. on those influenced.