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Federal Officials Mandate New Railroad Crossing Rules

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Federal officials later this month will enforce new regulations governing how commercial motor vehicles "drive onto highway-rail grade crossings." This latest regulation out of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stems from the transportation bill Congress recently passed. That legislation, known as MAP-21, directed FMCSA to prescribe regulations that will "reduce highway-rail grade crossing crashes." Despite the Congressional intervention on this issue, the direction of MAP-21 is the culmination of a notice of proposed rulemaking originally published in January 2011 with the same goal. The new regulation, effective Friday, October 25, reads:

49 C.F.R. 392.12 Highway-rail crossings; safe clearance
No driver of a commercial motor vehicle shall drive onto a highway-rail grade crossing without having sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.

Something else to consider with this new development is training. Although NRMCA’s previous guidance on this topic fell in line with the new regulations, the Safety Series #15: Railroad Crossing Safety has been updated to accurately reflect the new changes. According to FMCSA, training on this would also "occur as a modification of emphasis in existing railroad grade crossing training curricula. Railroad grade crossing training curricula for drivers would include training to comply with eight FMCSRs related to the safe operation of regulated motor vehicles at railroad grade crossings and penalties for noncompliance with these railroad grade crossing safe operation rules. In addition, drivers who operate in States with existing laws similar to the regulations in this final rule will be familiar with the requirements."

Finally, FMCSA expects this rule to result in 2.62 fewer crashes each year and 0.3 fewer train derailments.

For more information, contact Gary Mullings at or Kevin Walgenbach at

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