Keeping the grade crossing portion of this transportation network operating safely and efficiently involves local, state and federal governments as well as the private sector. These safety efforts can be summarized as the Three E’s - Education, Engineering and Enforcement.
Education: The ICC is actively involved in developing programs to educate the public about the danger at highway-rail grade crossings. One example of this public education program is the ICC’s participation in Operation Lifesaver. The Operation Lifesaver program is a public-private partnership designed to increase public awareness of grade crossing hazards. It also strives to improve driver and pedestrian behavior at railroad crossings by encouraging compliance with traffic laws relating to crossing signs and signals.
Enforcement: Enforcement of existing traffic and trespass laws is key, especially the issuance of fines (up to $500) or community service to persons crossing railroad tracks after the warning signals have activated.
Engineering: Grade crossing safety improvements are also critical to reducing collisions. The ICC orders physical and system improvements, including the installation and upgrading of grade crossing warning signs and signals and, where warranted, grade separations. While education and enforcement are absolutely essential, the focus of this report is the engineering of capital improvements to further railroad crossing safety on local roads.
2011 IN REVIEW - Collision and Fatality Rates
In 2011, preliminary statistics indicate there were 81 collisions at public crossings in Illinois, a 29% decrease compared to 2010 figures. National preliminary figures for 2011 indicate 1,693 collisions occurred, compared to 1,741 in 2010, which is a 2.8% decrease. As can be seen from the following charts, the trend both nationally and in Illinois is a steady decrease in collisions, except between 2003 and 2004, and again between 2009 and 2010, when there was a marked increase in collisions year over year.
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