49 U.S. Code § 20161 - Fostering introduction of new technology to improve safety at highway-rail grade crossings
Collisions between highway users and trains at highway-rail grade crossings continue to cause an unacceptable loss of life, serious personal injury, and property damage.
While elimination of at-grade crossings through consolidation of crossings and grade separations offers the greatest long-term promise for optimizing the safety and efficiency of the two modes of transportation, over 140,000 public grade crossings remain on the general rail system—approximately one for each route mile on the general rail system.
Conventional highway traffic control devices such as flashing lights and gates are often effective in warning motorists of a train’s approach to an equipped crossing.
Since enactment of the Highway Safety Act of 1973, over $4,200,000,000 of Federal funding has been invested in safety improvements at highway-rail grade crossings, yet a majority of public highway-rail grade crossings are not yet equipped with active warning systems.
The emergence of new technologies presents opportunities for more effective and affordable warnings and safer passage of highway users and trains at remaining highway-rail grade crossings.
Implementation of new crossing safety technology will require extensive cooperation between highway authorities and railroad carriers.
Federal Railroad Administration regulations establishing performance standards for processor-based signal and train control systems provide a suitable framework for qualification of new or novel technology at highway-rail grade crossings, and the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices provides an appropriate means of determining highway user interface with such new technology.
It is the policy of the United States to encourage the development of new technology that can prevent loss of life and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings. The Secretary of Transportation is designated to carry out this policy in consultation with States and necessary public and private entities.
(c) Submission of New Technology Proposals.—
Railroad carriers and railroad suppliers may submit for review and approval to the Secretary such new technology designed to improve safety at highway-rail grade crossings. The Secretary shall approve by order the new technology designed to improve safety at highway-rail grade crossings in accordance with Federal Railroad Administration standards for the development and use of processor-based signal and train control systems and shall consider the effects on safety of highway-user interface with the new technology.
(d) Effect of Secretarial Approval.—
If the Secretary approves by order new technology to provide warning to highway users at a highway-rail grade crossing and such technology is installed at a highway-rail grade crossing in accordance with the conditions of the approval, this determination preempts any State statute or regulation concerning the adequacy of the technology in providing warning at the crossing.
The following state regulations pages link to this page.