United States: FRA launches new smartphone app

18 Jun

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on June 18th, 2013 announced the launch of an iOS smartphone mobile application, the Rail Crossing Locator, which provides the public with easy access to safety information about the nation’s more than 200,000 level crossings.

“Safety is our highest priority, and at the Department of Transportation, we believe that giving people better information leads to smarter and safer travel,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “With the Rail Crossing Locator, individuals can use a mobile app to access information wherever they are to improve neighbourhood safety and make better personal travel choices.”

The Rail Crossing Locator app works by prompting users to enter a specific location, which then allows them to locate level crossings in their area and retrieve important information, such as the physical characteristics of a crossing and the type of traffic control devices used. The app allows users to report information about level crossings to the FRA to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is available. This new app is free through Apple’s App Store and can be used on any iPhone or iPad.

Over the past decade, level crossing incidents have declined by 34%, and deaths resulting from these events have fallen 30%. However, while the total number of incidents has been trending downward, collisions at level crossings remain a challenge to safety. Last year alone, level crossing collisions accounted for nearly 20% of all reportable rail accidents and incidents and represented nearly one-third of all rail-related fatalities.

“While we’ve made significant progress in the reduction of highway-grade crossing incidents over the last decade, much more work remains to be done,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “This technology will be one more tool to help us reach our goal of zero fatalities.”

The continuing decline in crossing incidents, injuries and fatalities is attributable to on-going multifaceted public education efforts, engineering approaches to improve level crossing safety and enforcement efforts carried out by FRA, railroads, states, localities with education initiatives through these and other partners, often under the Operation Lifesaver umbrella.

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