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Types of Railroad Crossing Signs and Warnings And What They Mean

October 4, 2017

Whether you are driving in a new location or you are a new driver, it’s crucial that you are aware of the different types of railroad crossing signs and warnings . These signs are split between the categories of Passive and Aggressive.

What Are Passive Signs?

Passive railroad crossing signs are literal signs which warn motorists about an upcoming rail crossing. These are the usual everyday railroad crossing signs people see when driving around smaller towns, highways or byways.

Advance Warning Signs: These signs are large circles with a yellow background, a black X in the middle and an R on each side. These warn the driver that the road crosses over tracks. These are primarily used to remind the driver to slow down, then look and listen for a train before going over the cross way.

No Train Horn: These are rectangular in shape and have a yellow background with black print. The black lettering states No Train Horn. This is to make drivers aware that the area is a quiet zone and a horn will not sound from the train. Therefore, it’s especially important to be aware of an approaching train.

Low Ground Clearance: These actually have two connected signs. The top sign is a diamond with a railroad track, a vehicle and a “boom” graphic. The bottom part of the sign says Low Ground Clearance. This allows drivers to be aware that the ground is low in these areas and there is potential for a hang-up scenario to happen.

Advance Warning Signs: These are specifically for side streets. They warn people that if they are about to make a left or right turn out of a side street there will immediately be a rail crossing.

Other common signs to include: Railroad Crossing (Crossbuck sign), an Emergency Notification Sign, a 3 Track Sign, and a Stop Sign or a Yield Sign.

Passive signs for railroad crossing signs are commonly placed by local or state agencies – this includes pavement signs.

What Are Active Signs?

On the other hand, aggressive signs are electronic devices that warn drivers that they are about to approach a rail crossing. These include:

Flashing red lights – with or without bells: These warn the driver of an approaching train.

Flashing red lights and gates: These warn the driver of an approaching train, but have a barricade connected which comes down to block the railroad track from oncoming traffic. The barricade is generally red and white or black and white so it is visually noticeable.

Barricade of flashing lights: This is specifically designed to reach across the entire road and all traffic lanes so all people can be aware on multi-lane roads that a train is approaching the cross-section.

Active warning devices and their placement is decided by state authorities. Individual states will have the options to decide which type of warning devices are placed and where they are placed.

Each state has its own budget but criteria in choosing which signs to place, passive or active, is usually done by these types of criteria;

  • Vehicle Traffic At The Crossing
  • Types Of Vehicles
  • The Amount Of Trains That Pass By Daily
  • Vehicle Accident History At The Crossing

Passive and active signs and devices have their own placement depending on the type of environment the railroad crossing is at. For some locations, signs are enough, while in a more busy area or an intersection that has had a lot of accidents you may need an active warning system.

For more information about signs, contact Zumar.

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