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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety

Accidents at highway-rail grade crossings—intersections where roads cross railroad tracks at-grade—is the second leading cause of rail-related deaths in the United States. Nationally, more than 2,000 incidents and 200 fatalities at grade crossings occur each year. 

FRA works in partnership with railroads, state and local governments, and organizations to conduct outreach efforts to reduce grade crossing incidents. In addition, FRA provides data and resources to these stakeholders and the public and promotes technologies designed to improve grade crossing safety. 

Blocked Grade Crossings

FRA understands the safety concerns and inconvenience of blocked grade crossings. Yet there are no federal laws or regulations pertaining to blocked grade crossings. FRA collects data on blocked grade crossings and partners with railroads and local governments to reduce incidents. To assist in this effort, report blocked grade crossings at FRA’s Public Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter. If you are a pedestrian stopped at a blocked grade crossing, stay safe and do not attempt to cross the tracks.  


FRA has a wealth of data regarding grade crossing incidents as well as trespassing incidents and a grade crossing accident prediction system.  An inventory lists grade crossings, and reports list quiet zones.  Please visit the FRA Safety Data website to learn more. 

High-Speed Rail at Grade Crossings

FRA’s goal for high-speed rail grade crossings is to achieve an acceptable level of grade crossing risk. Regulatory requirements for high-speed grade crossings:

  • 110 mph or less: Grade crossings are permitted. States and railroads cooperate to determine the needed warning devices, including passive crossbucks, flashing lights, two-quadrant gates (close only "entering" lanes of road), long gate arms, median barriers, and various combinations. Lights and/or gates are activated by circuits wired to the track (track circuits).
  • 110-125 mph: FRA permits grade crossings only if an “impenetrable barrier” blocks highway traffic when train approaches.
  • Above 125 mph, no grade crossings will be permitted.

Strategies to reduce risk at high-speed rail grade crossings range from eliminating grade crossings whenever possible to using advanced train control systems that monitor and communicate train locations and speeds and stop the train if the grade crossing is not clear.

Four-quadrant gates reduce risk significantly when used in conjunction with existing technologies.

For more information on evaluation tools, evolving technologies, research, and solutions, please search in FRA’s e-Library