WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a final rule requiring 40 states and the District of Columbia to develop and implement highway-rail grade crossing action plans to improve public safety. In addition, the rule requires 10 states that have already developed grade crossing action plans, as required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) and FRA’s implementing regulation, to update their plans and submit reports describing the actions they have taken to implement them.
“Grade crossing accidents and incidents are the second-leading cause of rail-related deaths in the United States, but nearly every one of them is preventable,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “The action plans give states a tool to engage with federal and local partners, railroads, and rail safety advocates to identify high-risk crossings and develop strategies to save lives.”
“Safety is imperative to FHWA, especially where roads and rails meet,” said Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Nicole R. Nason. “These action plans can help states make highway-rail grade crossings safer for the traveling public.”
The final rule responds to a Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act mandate requiring states to develop and implement (or update, if applicable) action plans. Each plan must identify crossings that have experienced at least one accident or incident in the previous three years, multiple accidents or incidents in the previous five years, or that are determined by the state to be at high-risk for accidents or incidents. Furthermore, each action plan must identify specific strategies for improving safety at crossings, including crossing closures or re-aligning roadways over or under railways.
Under RSIA, FRA identified 10 states as having the most highway-rail grade crossing collisions, on average, over the three-year period from 2006 through 2008. In June 2010, FRA issued a final rule requiring these states to develop action plans and submit them to FRA for approval. The states are Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas. The FAST Act now requires each of them to submit an updated action plan and a report to FRA describing what it did to implement its previous action plan and how it will continue to reduce crossing safety risks.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia are required to submit individual highway-rail grade crossing action plans to FRA for review and approval no later than 14 months after the final rule’s publication date of December 14, 2020. FRA will provide technical assistance to help them develop (or update) their action plans. The states may also use federal funds allocated through FHWA’s Railway-Highway Crossing (Section 130) Program to develop and update their action plans.
WASHINGTON, DC, January 5, 2018 – Operation Lifesaver Inc., (OLI) the national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safety at railroad crossings and along railroad rights-of-way, has developed engaging new materials for its trained volunteer speakers to use in safety presentations with students in kindergarten through middle school.
“Operation Lifesaver is working to change people’s behavior around railroad tracks and crossings with our educational materials and tips for people of all ages,” said OLI Interim President Wende Corcoran.
“Every year, approximately 900 trespassers and over 1,000 motorists are involved in incidents along train tracks or at grade crossings,” she continued. “Reaching school-aged students with free presentations by our volunteers that are interesting, fun and that convey lifesaving information is an important part of our multi-faceted approach to reducing those numbers.”
The number of trespassers killed or injured while trespassing on railroad tracks and property rose in 2015 and 2016, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics. Corcoran noted that the new resources have been specifically designed to deliver age-appropriate trespass prevention messages.
The new Operation Lifesaver, Inc. materials include:
The Trains & Tracks presentation, for use with children in grades K-2 or between the ages of 5-8, introduces young children to basic safety messages and train attributes, emphasizing the importance of using caution around trains and tracks. The information is presented as a story, “Train and the Whateveritwas,” which incorporates key safety messages in an entertaining and engaging format.
The Train Safety Savvy presentation, for use with children in grades 3-5 or between the ages of 8-11, covers general safety messages, signs and signals, and trespass prevention messages using information and interactive games sequences to keep the attention of this age group.
The Main Line Middle School presentation, which uses emoji-like characters in a colorful, yearbook-style story line to appeal to smart phone-savvy students in grades 6-8 or ages 11-13, covers general safety messages, signs and signals, and trespass prevention messages.
Corcoran said that the three new educational tools are available for viewing on the OL for Kids section of the Operation Lifesaver, Inc. website. She noted that Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteers (OLAVs) may access and download all of these new materials in the Education Materials section of the website, as they do with all OLI presentation materials.
“We are excited to share these new educational materials with students, educators and schools across the U.S.,” said Corcoran.
About Operation Lifesaver – Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. A national network of trained volunteers provides free presentations on rail safety and a public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” equips the public with tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. Learn more athttp://www.oli.org.