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Fines for ignoring railroad crossing gates doubles January 1st

CHICAGO (AP) — Metra officials are reminding motorists that fines for driving over railroad tracks while crossing gates are down will double Jan. 1.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law in July that increased the penalty for disregarding activated gates and warning lights from $250 to $500 the first time. It doubles to $1,000 each time after that.

Click here to see what other new laws take effect in 2017.

Officials at suburban Chicago's commuter rail service say Illinois ranked second in the nation in 2015 for highway-rail fatalities. Operation Lifesaver reports up to 80 percent of train/car collisions occur at crossings with warning devices operating.

Republican state Sen. Karen McConnaughay (mih-KAHN-uh-hay) of St. Charles and Crystal Lake GOP Rep. Mike Tryon sponsored the measure. They believe the risk of steeper fines will make motorists think twice before trying to race a train.