New laws target child abuse and rail crossing dangers

Dozens of new laws were signed this week, including a measure that would increase collaboration between state government and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on child abuse and neglect cases filed against members of the military.

House Bill 4425 was introduced at the urging of the DoD, and will require the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to notify the DoD if a member of the Armed Forces is named as the alleged perpetrator in a child abuse or neglect report. If the accused is a member of the Illinois National Guard, DCFS is also required to notify the Office of the Adjutant General.

In an effort to deter motorists from crossing train tracks with an active warning device, Senate Bill 2806 will double the fine for not stopping at a railroad crossing. The first violation is increased to $500, up from the current $250; any subsequent violation would be an increase to $1,000 from $500.

In 2015, Illinois had the third-highest number of rail crossing collisions (140, behind Texas and California), the second-highest number of rail crossing fatalities (24, behind California) and the third-highest number of rail crossing injuries (79, behind Texas and North Carolina). Illinois is also home to the second-largest rail system of any state with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,363 public highway-rail crossings.

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