RAILROADS & HAZARDOUS MATERIALS / Implementing the MAP-21 statute enacted in 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) amend both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Hazarouds Materials Regulations, “to prohibit a driver of a commercial motor vehicle or of a motor vehicle transporting certain hazardous materials or certain agents or toxins (hereafter collectively referenced as ‘regulated motor vehicle’) from entering onto a highway-rail grade crossing unless there is sufficient space to drive completely through the grade crossing without stopping”.

“Highway-Rail Grade Crossing; Safe Clearance”

Final Rule. September 25, 2013. 

This is a major development in an area of much safety concern over accidents and also a much-litigated matter in tort cases.

The background here is detailed and complex.

Among other implications: The PHMSA and FMCSA standard set forth here will likely be incorporated into negligence standard of care instructions to juries and to judges as finders of fact under a “negligence per se” theory.

RAILROAD (FELA & FEDERAL RAIL SAFETY ACT) Miscellaneous Administrative Notices – Three recent Federal Railroad Administration notices that draw attention to the federal role in two localized sources of wrongful death and personal injury cases, often under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and Federal Rail Safety Act, respectively: (1) Signals WITHIN a railroad’s land and operational scope, and (2) highway-rail grade crossings.

See Federal Register notices on “proposed discontinuance or modification of a railroad signal system” by Wisconsin Central Limited (railroad) here, and “proposed discontinuance of automatic signals within traffic control systems (TSC) territory and the installation of a cab signal system without automatic wayside signals on the NS Pittsburgh Line” here.

“Importance of Clear Safety Procedures for Temporary Removal from Service of Highway – Rail Grade Crossing Warning Systems and Wayside Signal Systems.”

June 3, 2013. Notice of Safety Advisory