Governor's Traffic Safety Committee

NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law Excerpts

Railroad Crossing Safety

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Contents

Article 1 Words and phrases defined
Section 135-a Railroad grade crossing
Article 29 Special stops required
Section 1170 Obedience to signal indicating approach of train.
Section 1171 Certain vehicles must stop at all railroad grade crossings.
Article 44 Traffic-control devices
Section 1685 All vehicles must stop at certain railroad grade crossings where stop sign is erected.


§ 135-a. Railroad grade crossing. A location where a public highway or private road, including associated sidewalks, crosses one or more railroad tracks at grade.
NB Effective November 28, 2016

§ 1170. Obedience to signal indicating approach of train. (a) Whenever any person driving a vehicle approaches a railroad grade crossing under any of the circumstances stated in this section, the driver of such vehicle shall stop not less than fifteen feet from the nearest rail of such railroad, and shall not proceed until he can do so safely. The foregoing requirements shall apply when:
1. An audible or clearly visible electric or mechanical signal device gives warning of the immediate approach of a railroad train;
2. A crossing gate is lowered or when a human flagman gives or continues to give a signal of the approach or passage of a railroad train;
3. A railroad train approaching within approximately one thousand five hundred feet of the highway crossing emits a signal audible from such distance and such railroad train, by reason of its speed or nearness to such crossing, is an immediate hazard; or
4. An approaching railroad train is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to such crossing.
5. Every person convicted of a violation of this subdivision shall for a first conviction thereof be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days or by both such fine and imprisonment; for a conviction of a second violation, both of which were committed within a period of eighteen months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than forty-five days or by both such fine and imprisonment; upon a conviction of a third or subsequent violation, all of which were committed within a period of eighteen months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days or by both such fine and imprisonment.
NB Effective December 1, 2016
(b) No person shall drive any vehicle through, around, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed. Every person convicted of a violation of this subdivision shall for a first conviction thereof be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than four hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days or by both such fine and imprisonment; for a conviction of a second violation, both of which were committed within a period of eighteen months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not less than three hundred fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days or by both such fine and imprisonment; upon a conviction of a third or subsequent violation, all of which were committed within a period of eighteen months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not less than six hundred dollars nor more than seven hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one hundred eighty days or by both such fine and imprisonment.
NB Effective Until December 1, 2016
(b) No person shall drive any vehicle through, around, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed. Every person convicted of a violation of this subdivision shall for a first conviction thereof be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than four hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days or by both such fine and imprisonment; for a conviction of a second violation, both of which were committed within a period of thirty months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not less than three hundred fifty dollars nor more than seven hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days or by both such fine and imprisonment; upon a conviction of a third or subsequent violation, all of which were committed within a period of thirty months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not less than six hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one hundred eighty days or by both such fine and imprisonment.
NB Effective December 1, 2016
(c) 1. Any person convicted of a violation of this section while driving any vehicle carrying passengers under eighteen years of age, any bus carrying passengers, any school bus or any vehicle carrying explosive substances or flammable liquids as a cargo or part of a cargo, shall, upon conviction of a first offense, be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and shall, upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense committed within five years of the prior offense, be guilty of a class E felony.
2. Any person convicted of a violation of this section resulting in an accident which causes physical injury, as that term is defined pursuant to subdivision nine of section 10.00 of the penal law, serious physical injury, as that term is defined pursuant to subdivision ten of section 10.00 of the penal law, or death to another person, shall be guilty of a class E felony.
(d) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit or limit the prosecution of any violation, crime or other offense otherwise required or permitted by law.

§ 1171. Certain vehicles must stop at all railroad grade crossings. (a) The driver of any bus carrying passengers, of any school bus, of any motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than ten thousand pounds that transports division 2.3 chlorine or is a cargo tank, whether loaded or empty, used to transport hazardous materials, as defined in section five hundred one-a of this chapter, of any motor vehicle required to be marked or placarded by either the United States department of transportation or the New York state department of transportation regulations or any vehicle carrying explosive substances or flammable liquids as a cargo or part of a cargo, of any crawler-type tractor, steam shovel, derrick, roller, or of any equipment or structure having a normal operating speed of ten or less miles per hour or a vertical body or load clearance of less than one-half inch per foot of the distance between any two adjacent axles or in any event of less than nine inches, measured above the level surface of a roadway, before crossing at grade any track or tracks of a railroad, shall stop such vehicle within fifty feet but not less than fifteen feet from the nearest rail of such railroad and while so stopped shall listen and look in both directions along such track for any approaching train, and for signals indicating the approach of a train, except as hereinafter provided, and shall not proceed until he can do so safely. After stopping as required herein and upon proceeding when it is safe to do so the driver of any said vehicle shall cross only in such gear of the vehicle that there will be no necessity for changing gears while traversing such crossing and the driver shall not shift gears while crossing the track or tracks.
(b) No stop need be made at any such crossing where a police officer or a traffic-control signal or sign directs traffic to proceed.
(c) Every motor vehicle used in commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than ten thousand pounds not subject to the requirements of subdivision (a) of this section: (i) shall upon approaching a railroad grade crossing, be driven at a rate of speed which will permit said motor vehicle to be stopped before reaching the nearest rail of such crossing, and shall not be driven upon or over such crossing until due caution has been taken to ascertain that the course is clear; and (ii) shall stop at such crossing if the course is not clear.
(d) In addition to the requirements of subdivisions (a) and (c) of this section, the driver of a commercial vehicle must check street-railway grade crossings within a business or residence district.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, every operator of a commercial motor vehicle shall obey a traffic control device or the directions of a police officer at a railroad grade crossing.
(f) Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall for a first conviction thereof be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days or by both such fine and imprisonment; for a conviction of a second violation, both of which were committed within a period of thirty months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than forty-five days or by both such fine and imprisonment; upon a conviction of a third or subsequent violation, all of which were committed within a period of thirty months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days or by both such fine and imprisonment.
NB Effective December 1, 2016

§ 1685. All vehicles must stop or yield at certain railroad grade crossings where a stop or yield sign is erected. The state transportation commissioner, with respect to state highways, and local authorities with respect to local streets within their jurisdiction, with the approval of the state transportation commissioner are hereby authorized to install a stop or yield sign at any highway-railroad crossings within their respective jurisdictions.
The design and place and manner of installation of such signs shall conform to the manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic control devices adopted by the state transportation commissioner.
Whenever any such crossing is so designated and a stop or yield sign is installed, it shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to fail to stop or yield within fifty feet but not less than fifteen feet from such railroad tracks before traversing such crossing. The failure to erect, or the erection of, or failure to replace or maintain such signs shall not be a basis for any action of negligence against a municipality or the state nor a basis of a defense by a railroad in an action based on negligence against a railroad.

Railroad Crossing Safety Index & Overview | New York State Operation Lifesaver