The New York State Senate today announced that final passage was given to the Rail Safety Act of 2016, a measure that will enhance railroad safety measures throughout New York State. The bill (S8119), sponsored by Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I, Rochester), is part of an agreement with the Governor and the Assembly to require joint inspection of traffic signals; increase penalties for failing to comply with regulations; align railroad bridge inspection requirements with federal regulations; and increase penalties for failing to obey certain signals and stops.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said, “When it comes to railroad grade crossings, New York is ensuring safety first and keeping motorists and others out of harm’s way. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for highlighting this critical public safety issue and working with us to get a meaningful result.”

Senator Robach, Chair of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, said, “Improving public and commuter safety is critically important, especially with more drivers and riders using our roads and mass transit systems than ever before. This encompassing legislation can help save lives and reduce the number of senseless crossing-collision deaths in New York by strengthening inspection requirements and raising driver awareness about on-coming railroad crossings.”

Although the numbers of fatalities and accidents at highway-railroad grade crossings have fallen steadily on a national level, they have increased in New York. Existing provisions of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law require motorists to observe safe driving behaviors at grade crossings, but many motorists fail to follow these critical safety requirements, risking their own safety as well as others’.

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