FRESNO, Calif (FOX26) — When it comes to a train hitting a car, it's almost no contest.
Police say the train wins most of the time. National numbers show that number of vehicles hit by trains has gone down overall, but it's still a problem here in the valley.
"When those lights are going off and the arms haven't completely come down yet, stop, just like a red light," said Lt. Mark Hudson.
But some drivers don't take heed. Data from the federal railroad administration says from 1981- 2017 there have been nearly 157,000 crashes involving trains and cars. Nearly 17,000 people died and more than 60,000 were hurt.
Despite the numbers going down according to that study, Fresno saw five crashes involving trains and cars in 2017 and two more in 2018.
Back in October, a woman was probably left sore after her car smashed into an Amtrak train.
"Thinking you can get across it in a car if there are no crossing arms coming down. It is something certain you must be aware of. If a train is coming stop and wait for it to go by," said Lt. Hudson.
Police say she saw the lights flashing but the crossing guards weren't down so she went through.
"You don't know if your vehicle is going to make it across the track. Don't try to think that your vehicle is safe enough, quick enough or what have you. You never know. Just be cautious," said Lt. Hudson.
Taking that gamble is a huge risk, Operation Life Saver says the force of a 30-car-freight train hitting a car is equal to the force of a car crushing an aluminum can.
The California DMV says red flashing lights means stop driver should stop at least 15 feet but no more than 50 feet from the nearest crossing when it is active and to never stop on a railroad track.