Blocked Crossing

Railroad grade crossings occupied by train cars or equipment stopped and/or parked in the middle of a railroad grade crossing prohibiting the movement of vehicles through the crossing. Blocked crossings are extremely dangerous because many collisions happen at dawn, dusk or during darkness due to limited visibility or adverse weather conditions. Freight rail cars are painted in dark colors that blend in with their surroundings and are often covered with dirt and grime that make them less conspicuous. Railroad freight cars are not equipped with side reflectors, making them difficult to see at night. Due to their enormous size, locomotives at night often encompass a motorists’ entire field of vision and tend to blend in with the background, making them “invisible.”

Ohio Revised Code 5589.21-No railroad company shall obstruct, or permit or cause to be obstructed a public street, road, or highway, by permitting a railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction to remain upon or across it for longer than five minutes, to the hindrance or inconvenience of travelers or a person passing along or upon such street, road, or highway.
At the end of each five minute period of obstruction of a public street, road, or highway, each railroad company shall cause such railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction to be removed for sufficient time, not less than three minutes, to allow the passage of persons and vehicles waiting to cross. This does not apply to obstruction of a public street, road, or highway by a continuously moving through train or caused by circumstances wholly beyond the control of the railroad company, but does apply to other obstructions, including without limitation those caused by stopped trains and trains engaged in switching, loading, or unloading operations.

Ohio Revised Code 5589.24-Where a railroad abuses Ohio’s crossing-blockage legislation, it is subject to financial damages to be paid to: the railroad grade crossing improvement fund of the county if the violation occurred in an unincorporated area of the county, or to the railroad grade crossing improvement fund of the municipal corporation in which the violation occurred if the violation occurred in a municipal corporation. Maximum fine: $1,000, and $5,000 if the crew abandons the train.

Federal Law: The federal government has not exercised regulatory control over blocked crossings, with the exception of standing trains that unnecessarily activate grade-crossing warning systems. These regulations prohibit standing trains, locomotives, or other rail equipment from activating the warning systems at railroad crossings, unless the operations are part of normal train or switching movements. (49 CFR 234.209). Each state has the authority to adopt its own requirements regarding blocked trains.


"Bad Crossings Kill Good Drivers"®