Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, infrastructure - vehicle, planning - safety/accidents, planning - safety/accidents, mode - rail


United States, Traffic safety, Traffic accidents, Southeastern United States, South Atlantic States, Safety measures, Safety, Recommendations, Railroad grade crossings, Public safety, Level crossings, Improvements, Highway railroad grade crossings, Highway rail intersections, Highway accidents, Grade crossings, Grade crossing accidents, Countermeasures, Alabama


In April 1996, the state of Alabama Legislature, through the passage of Act 503, directed the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to conduct a comprehensive study of rail-highway grade crossings in the state and recommend methods to drastically reduce the number of vehicle-train crashes. Senate Act 503 states: "...That the Alabama Department of Transportation is directed to conduct a comprehensive study of the rail/highway grade crossings in the state and present a plan to this body recommending methods to dramatically reduce vehicle/train accidents by the first day of the 1997 Regular Session." In response to Act 503, the Multimodal Bureau of ALDOT developed an Action Plan that compared Alabama's grade crossing crash experience with the experience of the nation and the southeastern states to identify the prevalent characteristics, identified the perceived needs of safety and railroad professionals required to decrease vehicle-train crashes and crash severity, and compiled a list of recommendations and activities required for implementation. The activities and results of the Act 503 study documented in the final report are summarized. It discusses the engineering, economic, educational, enforcement, and emotional impediments to increasing rail-highway intersection safety and presents a broad range of realistic countermeasures. These countermeasures include legislative action; judicial reform; and enforcement, economic, and education initiatives.