January 24, 2011

FRA continues effort to improve safety at rail crossings

Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced guidance for further reducing highway-rail grade crossing and railroad trespassing incidents. The guidance to railroads and state and local governments is also aimed at keeping pedestrians safe near train stations.

“Safety is our number one priority, and we are committed to protecting lives in these situations where danger is easily avoided,” said Secretary LaHood. “Reducing risks at grade crossings and train stations, as well as keeping trespassers off the tracks, will save lives.”

The guidance documents from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Strategies to reduce violations at highway-rail grade crossings include working with Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) on expanded community outreach, additional law enforcement action and installation of warning devices.

Prevention strategies also include expanded educational outreach through OLI and the development of community action plans in concert with greater law enforcement action. FRA recommends additional signs to keep trespassers off tracks and the use of technologies such as motion sensors and video cameras.

Recommendations for railroad station safety include providing audible and visual warnings of approaching trains, station and platform structural improvements and, where feasible, fences to prohibit access to railroad tracks.

“Trespassing, intentional violation of warning devices at highway-rail grade crossings and pedestrian safety need to be better addressed, and our guidance provides the means to achieve greater safety,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “These types of incidents are preventable, and lives can be saved through these strategies.”

The Pedestrian Crossing Safety and Railroad Trespassing, Vandalism, and Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Warning Device Violation documents are also downloadable from the FRA website.

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