Commercial Vehicles and Railroad Crossings

Highway-rail grade crossings are intersections where roads cross railroad tracks on the same level or grade. These intersections are the site of more than 3,000 accidents every year, including roughly 700 semi truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created a new initiative designed to help truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators avoid these terrible accidents. If every commercial driver followed the precautions laid out by the FMCSA, there would be far fewer accidents and fewer fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings.

The FMCSA has created a website for truck drivers, motor carriers and other users of commercial motor vehicles. The website contains links to regulations, resources and safety guidance concerning highway-rail grade crossings. It instructs drivers as to when they are required to make a full stop at a highway-rail grade crossing and when they are permitted to simply slow down before crossing. The site gives instructions as to how far back a commercial vehicle is required to stop, when a full stop is necessary. It also repeats the prohibition against changing gears while traveling over a railroad crossing.

Some 300 to 400 people die at highway-rail grade crossings every year. More than 1,100 people are injured at these crossings. The rules and the general advice given by the FMCSA are boiled down to a simply phrase for all drivers approaching a railroad crossing, “Always Xpect a Train”!

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety,”

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