Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Rail Safety and Education


U.S. DOT launches railroad crossing safety ad

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) launched the “Stop! Trains Can’t” ad targeting young male motorists and encouraging them to act cautiously at railroad crossings. The campaign is the latest in a two-year effort by DOT to reduce accidents and fatalities at railroad crossings around the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have partnered in the nationwide effort.

For more information, take a look at the press release and watch the video.

Rail Grade Crossing Safety report identifies new project selection model

Rail Grade Crossing Safety

The safety of road users at Minnesota's 4,000-plus railroad grade crossings has improved in recent decades. In the early 1990s, over 100 automotive crashes per year occurred at rail crossings in Minnesota. Currently, the state records about 45 crashes per year, of which five involve fatalities. MnDOT oversees crossings on all roadways, though only 5 percent of crossings are on state highways.

Investigators created a new model for selecting railroad grade crossings for safety upgrades. The risk-based strategy, adapted from MnDOT's innovative approach to highway safety, allowed MnDOT to create a rail crossing upgrade plan based on risks of injury and death at crossings throughout Minnesota. See Rail Grade Crossing Safety Project Selection report or take a look at the report summary to learn more.

Ask a Trooper: Railroad crossing safety

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Neil Dickenson covers the topic of railroad crossing safety in the International Falls Journal guest column. Read the full story to learn more about how to prevent collisions with trains.

Agencies collaborate to teach public about rail safety in Winona area

At a recent rail safety event, Minnesota Operation Lifesaver, Canadian Pacific, Amtrak, Union Pacific Police and Winona Police worked together to raise awareness of railroad dangers and enhance safety around railroad tracks and crossings.

See videos and coverage of the event by the following media:

Safety improvements, education help bring rail crossing fatalities, crashes down in 2016

Vehicle-train fatalities and crashes at public railroad crossings in 2016 were the second lowest since 1970, according to the Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations’ rail section.

Two people died at railroad crossings in 2016 in two separate crashes, said Tom Gellerman, rail grade crossing data manager. Twenty-three crashes occurred last year with 10 reported injuries. Transit crashes are not included in the numbers.

Each year, MnDOT improves safety at grade crossings by installing or upgrading 25 to 30 active warning devices, spending $20 to $30 million annually. Learn more.

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Infographic courtesy of Volpe.
Nearly every 180 minutes, someone in America is hit by a train. In the early 1970s, it was every 40 minutes.

Safe driving, biking and walking spares lives!

  • At 50 m.p.h., it takes a fully-loaded freight train 1.5 miles to come to a full stop. By the time the train engineer sees a vehicle or pedestrian on the tracks, it is often too late.
  • Driver ignorance and impatience are the most common factors contributing to motor vehicle/train crashes.
  • The chance of death or serious injury from a motor vehicle/train crash is 11 times greater than for other highway collisions.
  • Because of their size, approaching trains appear to be traveling at a slower speed.
  • Railroad tracks and property close to the tracks (railroad "right-of-way") belong to the railroad. People who don't have permission to be on railroad property are trespassing. Even if there isn't a "No Trespassing" sign, it's still illegal and dangerous to be on the property.

Follow these safety tips:

  1. Yield the right-of-way to trains at highway-rail crossings. It's the law.
  2. Never drive around lowering gates, it's illegal and deadly.
  3. Only cross tracks where they are marked with pedestrian crossing markings.
  4. Never race a train to the crossing, even if it is a tie, you lose.
  5. Expect a train on the track at any time, trains do not follow set schedules.
  6. Look out for the second train when crossing multiple tracks.
  7. Immediately get out of your vehicle if it stalls on the crossing, get clear of the tracks and call 911.