VTA cracks down on commuters at light rail crossing in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- On just about every corner at the intersection of Stokes Street and Southwest Expressway Tuesday morning, you could spot Sheriff's deputies and people in brightVTA vests ready for a commuter crackdown.

"We're trying to make an impactful statement," Brandi Childress, a VTA spokesperson said.

VTA released a stunning video on social media of the issues the agency is facing around the light rail crossings. The close calls and crashes can be difficult to watch.

RELATED: VTA releases powerful videos of actual train crashes for rail safety month

Childress said Tuesday's blitz targeting cars, bicyclists and pedestrians are aimed at people ignoring traffic lights, safety warnings, and gates at the light rail crossing. She stopped a number of Del Mar High School students to educate them. Several students cross the tracks to get to school.

"We need them to stay safe on the tracks," Childress said. "Lots of distractions with cellphones and earbuds in, but we're also seeing people disobey the laws that are in place. So, the two D's that we're focused on is distraction and deliberately going around what's in place for them."

"We're happy that VTA is making it a priority to make sure that our students near Del Mar High School are aware of the difficulties of having a train right by our school," Sarah Foy, coordinator of community engagement and communications at Campbell Union High School District, said.

There have been 20 accidents involving VTA so far this year. A Del Mar High summer school student was critically injured after she went under the safety gate. Another student was killed doing that about five years ago.

RELATED: Cyclist rushed to hospital after collision with VTA train in San Jose

"Our main priority is making sure the public is safe, pedestrians are safe, especially when crossing the street," Santa Clara County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Low said.

"I think there's a little bit of confusion," Marjorie Catt, a neighbor said. "People tend to be hesitant about what is the traffic signal saying, what can I really do?"

Catt has lived near the Stokes and Southwest Expressway line for years, she thinks any sort of education can only make things better.

Tuesday morning, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office issued 19 citations and 27 warnings during the commuter crackdown. The violations included motorists running red lights, no turn on reds, people talking cell phones, motorists not wearing seat belts, and one unlicensed driver.

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