Fatalities and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings in the U.S. are a major safety concern. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, in recent years roughly 300 fatalities, 900 injuries and 2,400 accidents have occurred annually.
Grade crossing crashes are much more severe than other highway crashes. Based on NHTSA and FRA statistics, Operation Lifesaver reports that a motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.
There are approximately 140,000 public at-grade highway-rail crossings in the U.S. The challenge to local street and highway agencies is to accurately inventory these crossings and to cooperate with federal and state agencies, other jurisdictions and railroad companies to provide as safe an approach and crossing as possible.
In addition to existing mandates for Crossbuck and advance warning signs at all crossings, and requirements for RRX pavement marking symbols on paved roads with speed limits over 40 mph, the 2009 MUTCD details new requirements for highway-rail grade crossing traffic control including the addition of:
A YIELD or STOP sign (together with a Crossbuck sign) at passive crossings (compliance date: 12/31/19)
Stop lines on paved roadways at active crossings
A NO TRAIN HORN sign in established quiet zones to alert motorists that trains may be present even though no train horn is heard.
In addition, all traffic signs—including those at highway-rail grade crossings—are subject to the federal Minimum Retroreflectivity Ruling. Agencies have until January of 2012 to implement and use an assessment or management method to maintain traffic sign retroreflectivity at or above the established minimum levels, and until January of 2015 to replace regulator, warning and ground-mounted guide signs (except street name signs) which fail to meet the established minimum levels.
3M Solutions for Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety and Compliance
Signs and markings are low-cost safety improvements with a high benefit-to-cost ratio in terms of crash prevention.
High visibility signs and markings offer drivers more time to react to the presence of trains and obey traffic warning devices.
3M’s reflective sheeting for traffic signs provides the highest level of nighttime performance available for visibility and compliance. Fluorescent yellow warning signs are more visible than standard yellow signs at dawn to dusk and during inclement weather.
3M offers a full portfolio of durable pavement marking products including bright, all-weather liquids, tapes and symbols/legends.
3M™ Roadway Maintenance Services is ready to act as an extension of agency resources. We offer comprehensive, scalable services including inventory, assessment, upgrade and maintenance of highway-rail grade crossing sign and pavement marking assets. Multi-year contracts are available to help spread costs over multiple budget cycles and can aid in budget predictability.
For more information about 3M’s traffic safety products and services for highway-rail crossing safety, contact us.