The Federal Railroad Administration is urging all state departments of transportation to verify that railroad crossing warning systems interconnected with traffic lights are functioning properly.
Traffic lights and railroad crossing lights must be properly sequenced to provide enough time for traffic to clear from a nearby intersection before a train enters a crossing.
Additionally, the agency is calling on states to add event recorders to traffic lights connected to railroad crossing systems to improve information gathering and help prevent future accidents. There are nearly 5,000 railroad crossings interconnected with traffic lights in the U.S., according to the FRA.
“Simply put: We strongly recommend that state and local transportation officials, together with railroad officials, visit crossings in their region and monitor and test crossing signals and adjacent traffic signals to ensure that the signals are synced and operating properly,” FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg wrote in a letter to the heads of state departments of transportation across the country.
In 2014, 267 people were killed in accidents involving trains and vehicles, according to the FRA. Incidents at rail crossings are the second leading cause of death and injury on or near railroad tracks. Since 2013, there have been 96 fatalities in highway rail accidents at intersections where stoplights are interconnected with railroad equipment.
Last year, FRA launched a new campaign to reverse the recent uptick in railroad crossing fatalities. The effort includes partnering with Google and other tech companies to add visual and audio alerts to map applications. FRA has also worked with local police to increase enforcement around railroad crossings.
To view a list of crossing connected to traffic lights, click here.
To view a CBS News video report about the issue, click on the photo or link below the headline.