Highway-Rail Grade Crossing & Safety Initiative
As part of FRA's goal to improve safety, we are working to reduce highway-rail crossing and trespasser incidents. A highway-rail crossing is defined as a location where railroad tracks intersect a public or private thoroughfare, side walk or a pathway. A trespasser is anyone whose presence on railroad property (track, bridges, equipment and yards) is not authorized by the railroad.
The reality is that nearly every 115 minutes in America, someone is hit by a train. Combined, highway-rail crossing and trespasser deaths account for 90 percent of all rail-related deaths, and tragically most accidents are avoidable. Nationally, more than 550 trespass fatalities and nearly as many injuries occur each year.
Most crossing accidents occur simply because motorists choose to ignore warnings signs, signals, or safety gates. Nearly all trespasser deaths are preventable. Unfortunately, many people continue to jog, ride bikes, and walk near or over tracks daily, needlessly endangering their lives and the lives of train crews. Many believe they will hear the oncoming train or that the train will be able to stop in time. The fact is that it takes a train traveling 50 mph a mile-and-a-half to stop.
While many of these fatalities and injuries occur because people choose to disregard warning signs, some are a result of adults and children not understanding that a train can travel through a segment of track at any time, often with less than a minute of warning. That is why the FRA has launched a public information campaign to educate the American people that they should Always Expect A Train, with the goal to change the public's behavior by increasing awareness of the dangers at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on railroad property.
Education is the most important element of our initiative and the "lifesaving message" is part of a nationwide multimedia campaign that will air on television, radio and in print nationwide in English and Spanish. DOT is also partnering with State and local governments, transportation and civic associations, schools, and all possible partners to alert the public that they should Always Expect A Train.