49 U.S.C. Section 20153
Audible Warnings at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

    49 USC Sec. 20153                                            01/26/98








    Sec. 20153. Audible warnings at highway-rail grade crossings


      (a) Definitions. - As used in this section -

        (1) the term ''highway-rail grade crossing'' includes any

      street or highway crossing over a line of railroad at grade;

        (2) the term ''locomotive horn'' refers to a train-borne

      audible warning device meeting standards specified by the

      Secretary of Transportation; and

        (3) the term ''supplementary safety measure'' refers to a

      safety system or procedure, provided by the appropriate traffic

      control authority or law enforcement authority responsible for

      safety at the highway-rail grade crossing, that is determined by

      the Secretary to be an effective substitute for the locomotive

      horn in the prevention of highway-rail casualties.  A traffic

      control arrangement that prevents careless movement over the

      crossing (e.g., as where adequate median barriers prevent

      movement around crossing gates extending over the full width of

      the lanes in the particular direction of travel), and that

      conforms to standards prescribed by the Secretary under this

      subsection, shall be deemed to constitute a supplementary safety

      measure.  The following do not, individually or in combination,

      constitute supplementary safety measures within the meaning of

      this subsection: standard traffic control devices or arrangements

      such as reflectorized crossbucks, stop signs, flashing lights,

      flashing lights with gates that do not completely block travel

      over the line of railroad, or traffic signals.

      (b) Requirement. - The Secretary of Transportation shall

    prescribe regulations requiring that a locomotive horn shall be

    sounded while each train is approaching and entering upon each

    public highway-rail grade crossing.

      (c) Exception. - (1) In issuing such regulations, the Secretary

    may except from the requirement to sound the locomotive horn any

    categories of rail operations or categories of highway-rail grade

    crossings (by train speed or other factors specified by regulation)


        (A) that the Secretary determines not to present a significant

      risk with respect to loss of life or serious personal injury;

        (B) for which use of the locomotive horn as a warning measure

      is impractical; or

        (C) for which, in the judgment of the Secretary, supplementary

      safety measures fully compensate for the absence of the warning

      provided by the locomotive horn.

      (2) In order to provide for safety and the quiet of communities

    affected by train operations, the Secretary may specify in such

    regulations that any supplementary safety measures must be applied

    to all highway-rail grade crossings within a specified distance

    along the railroad in order to be excepted from the requirement of

    this section.

      (d) Application for Waiver or Exemption. - Notwithstanding any

    other provision of this subchapter, the Secretary may not entertain

    an application for waiver or exemption of the regulations issued

    under this section unless such application shall have been

    submitted jointly by the railroad carrier owning, or controlling

    operations over, the crossing and by the appropriate traffic

    control authority or law enforcement authority.  The Secretary

    shall not grant any such application unless, in the judgment of the

    Secretary, the application demonstrates that the safety of highway

    users will not be diminished.

      (e) Development of Supplementary Safety Measures. - (1) In order

    to promote the quiet of communities affected by rail operations and

    the development of innovative safety measures at highway-rail grade

    crossings, the Secretary may, in connection with demonstration of

    proposed new supplementary safety measures, order railroad carriers

    operating over one or more crossings to cease temporarily the

    sounding of locomotive horns at such crossings.  Any such measures

    shall have been subject to testing and evaluation and deemed

    necessary by the Secretary prior to actual use in lieu of the

    locomotive horn.

      (2) The Secretary may include in regulations issued under this

    subsection special procedures for approval of new supplementary

    safety measures meeting the requirements of subsection (c)(1) of

    this section following successful demonstration of those measures.

      (f) Specific Rules. - The Secretary may, by regulation, provide

    that the following crossings over railroad lines shall be subject,

    in whole or in part, to the regulations required under this


        (1) Private highway-rail grade crossings.

        (2) Pedestrian crossings.

        (3) Crossings utilized primarily by nonmotorized vehicles and

      other special vehicles.

    Regulations issued under this subsection shall not apply to any

    location where persons are not authorized to cross the railroad.

      (g) Issuance. - The Secretary shall issue regulations required by

    this section pertaining to categories of highway-rail grade

    crossings that in the judgment of the Secretary pose the greatest

    safety hazard to rail and highway users not later than 24 months

    following November 2, 1994. The Secretary shall issue regulations

    pertaining to any other categories of crossings not later than 48

    months following November 2, 1994.

      (h) Impact of Regulations. - The Secretary shall include in

    regulations prescribed under this section a concise statement of

    the impact of such regulations with respect to the operation of

    section 20106 of this title (national uniformity of regulation).

      (i) Regulations. - In issuing regulations under this section, the

    Secretary -

        (1) shall take into account the interest of communities that -

          (A) have in effect restrictions on the sounding of a

        locomotive horn at highway-rail grade crossings; or

          (B) have not been subject to the routine (as defined by the

        Secretary) sounding of a locomotive horn at highway-rail grade


        (2) shall work in partnership with affected communities to

      provide technical assistance and shall provide a reasonable

      amount of time for local communities to install supplementary

      safety measures, taking into account local safety initiatives

      (such as public awareness initiatives and highway-rail grade

      crossing traffic law enforcement programs) subject to such terms

      and conditions as the Secretary deems necessary, to protect

      public safety; and

        (3) may waive (in whole or in part) any requirement of this

      section (other than a requirement of this subsection or

      subsection (j)) that the Secretary determines is not likely to

      contribute significantly to public safety.

      (j) Effective Date of Regulations. - Any regulations under this

    section shall not take effect before the 365th day following the

    date of publication of the final rule.


    (Added Pub. L. 103-440, title III, Sec. 302(a), Nov. 2, 1994, 108

    Stat. 4626; amended Pub. L. 104-264, title XII, Sec. 1218(a), Oct.

    9, 1996, 110 Stat. 3285; Pub. L. 104-287, Sec. 5(51), Oct. 11,

    1996, 110 Stat. 3393.)



      1996 - Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 104-287 substituted ''November 2,

    1994'' for ''the date of enactment of this section'' in two places.

      Subsecs. (i), (j). Pub. L. 104-264 added subsecs. (i) and (j).

                      EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1996 AMENDMENT

      Except as otherwise specifically provided, amendment by Pub. L.

    104-264 applicable only to fiscal years beginning after Sept. 30,

    1996, and not to be construed as affecting funds made available for

    a fiscal year ending before Oct. 1, 1996, see section 3 of Pub. L.

    104-264, set out as a note under section 106 of this title.