The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), an agency of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), recently announced the creation of a dedicated webpage for the reporting of blocked highway-rail grade crossings by the public and law enforcement ().
A blocked railroad crossing happens when a train stopped on the tracks substantially obstructs the flow of motor vehicle or pedestrian traffic for an extended period of time. Because local communities have been struggling with the issue of blocked crossings for years, the FRA is now soliciting input from the public and law enforcement to develop a clearer understanding of the scope of the blocked crossing problem and identify possible solutions.
“Railroads, states, and local jurisdictions are best positioned to address blocked highway-rail grade crossings and I’ve asked them to work together to minimize unwanted impacts,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “FRA expects that collecting this data will help us identify where chronic problems exist and better assess the underlying causes and overall impacts of blocked crossings – locally, regionally and nationwide.”
Blocked railroad crossings present a variety of potential safety hazards, especially in locations where the tracks are frequently obstructed for lengthy time periods. For example, exasperated drivers may try to speed across the tracks mere moments before a train arrives. Similarly, pedestrians may attempt to squeeze between railcars stopped on the tracks. In addition, blocked crossings create many other inconveniences for people in the surrounding community, including causing roadway congestion and making people late for work, school, and appointments.
The new includes a form for users to report specific information to help the FRA learn where, when, for how long, and what impacts result from blocked highway-rail grade crossings. The form is expected to take an average of three minutes to complete. “Our ability to address this issue is only as effective as the data we collect,” Batory said. “Therefore, we are hoping to engage citizens and all levels of government to help spread the word about this important tool.”
Because it has become increasingly clear that the railroad industry will never prioritize safety over profits, it is encouraging to see the FRA continue to embrace technology in its efforts to improve the safety of American railroad crossings. If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.