(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement regarding the public education campaign launched today by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Operation Lifesaver, Inc. to improve safety at railroad crossings:
“Rail grade crossings are not just accidents waiting to happen— these accidents are happening repeatedly and daily across the nation, claiming hundreds of lives. Public education must be a vital component of any campaign to reduce these preventable, heartbreaking catastrophes, and I commend the MTA and Operation Lifesaver for this campaign. Public education will save lives, but it must be accompanied by robust investment in engineering and enforcement. Far too many crossings nationwide still rely on 19th century technology—a shocking indictment of our outdated, inadequate safety infrastructure. That is why I have introduced the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act to finally bring rail grade crossings into the 21st century through better education, enforcement and engineering,” Blumenthal said.
Following the catastrophic Metro-North collision at the Valhalla grade crossing earlier this year, Blumenthal introduced the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015. The legislation focuses on the “Three Es,” which are the factors that experts have identified as the most effective means of reducing such collisions: engineering, education and enforcement. The bill provides new resources to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), states and communities to make critical engineering and safety upgrades at rail crossings, like installing new lights and signals, particularly at accident-prone crossings. It would also provide grant funding to strengthen education and public awareness of grade crossing dangers, and for law enforcement to reduce violations of traffic laws at crossings.