Freight Rail Policy Stance: The freight rail industry supports dedicated funding for the Section 130 program the provides funds to eliminate hazards at highway-rail grade crossings.
Why This is Important: The program has been a huge success, helping prevent thousands of accidents and fatalities since its inception in 1987.
A highway-rail grade crossing is where a railway and roadway intersect at the same level.
There are more than 200,000 grade crossings in the United States. States, not railroads, are responsible for evaluating grade crossing risks and prioritizing grade crossings for improvement.
Under the Section 130 program, more than $230 million in federal funds are allocated each year to states for installing new active warning devices, upgrading existing devices and improving grade crossing surfaces. Without a budgetary set-aside like this, grade crossing needs would fare poorly in competition with more traditional highway needs, such as highway construction and maintenance.
Thanks in part to the Section 130 federal program, grade crossing collisions are down 39% since 2000. Continued dedicated funding of this important program will mean more injuries averted and more lives saved at grade crossings.
Most grade crossing collisions are preventable, so the focus should be on educating the public regarding safety at crossings, on engineering solutions (such as closing unneeded crossings and upgrading warning devices) that prevent collisions and on enforcement of applicable traffic laws.
In addition to promoting the federal effort, railroads work every day with federal, state and local officials and the public to improve grade crossing safety and promote safe driver and pedestrian behavior. Railroads also work with Operation Lifesaver (OLI), a nationwide non-profit organization, to educate motorists and pedestrians on the importance of safe behavior around railroad tracks. Together, the AAR and OLI launched the nationwide See Tracks? Think Train! public service campaign.