Union Pacific train The Iowa Department of Transportation has released some new statistics that show more crashes are taking place at highway railroad crossings.

D.O.T. spokesperson Scott Falb says there were 40 crashes between vehicles and trains during the first six months of this year. That compares to just 24 such crashes during ALL of 2006.

Falb says the crashes, for the most part, involve impatient drivers. Out of the 40 crashes between January and June, five involved fatalities. There were only 8 fatalities from car/train collisions in the previous four years combined.

"Even though we’ve put in crossing arms and medians to keep (motorists) from going around," Falb says, "people get in a hurry and misjudge the speed at which these trains are moving…they attempt to cross and get hit." It’s not only dangerous, but illegal to go around railroad crossing arms. Falb says trains often appear to be further away or moving slower than people think.

He says there’s no way for motorists to accurately gauge the speed of a moving train. Falb says 2007 has been the most dangerous year for car-train collisions since 2001, when there were 14 fatalities at highway-railroad crossings.