Drivers cannot be expected to know how much space is available before they cross, the American Trucking Associations said in its comments.

FMCSA Urged to Require Signs at Grade Crossings

The agency is accepting comments about its proposed rule until April 29. Commenters say some or all grade crossings should have signs posted to warn truckers how much room is available on the other side of the tracks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to accept comments until April 29 about its proposed rule that would bar a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver from entering a highway-rail grade crossing unless enough room for his or her vehicle exists on the opposite side of the tracks. While the rule is sensible, it is unenforceable because drivers can't be expected to know how much space is available before they cross, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said in its March 23 comments. So ATA suggested making state road officials post signs to warn them as they approach.

State highway departments are already having difficulty paying for mandated federal highway safety changes, and ATA's comments don't suggest where the money for these signs could be found. The comments also recommend working with companies that make GPS and other routing technology used by CMV drivers to ensure that crossings with insufficient space are marked and can be avoided.

Another organization recommending signs is Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, which also filed its comments March 23. Twenty-four states have laws on their books to the same effect as what FMCSA has proposed, but it may take the remaining 26 states until 2036 to enact such laws, Advocates said.

Advocates recommended that the final rule require warning signs to be posted at all crossings with 100 feet of clearance or less.

Both FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have dockets open on this rulemaking (numbers PHMSA-2010-0319 and FMCSA-2006-25660).

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