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Law on railroad crossing PDF Print E-mail

I was on patrol the other day, minding my own business, when I noticed the red flashing lights at the railroad crossing up ahead.   I looked to my right and there was the train, and it wasn’t moving slow.  I looked at the railroad crossing and the crossing lights were activated and I was close enough to hear the warning bells at the crossing.  And I was in a fully marked Michigan State Police, Tahoe patrol car.

   Much to my surprise and consternation, I observe a car, going the opposite direction, pull up to the railroad tracks, not stop and accelerate across the tracks as the train was approaching.  Where’s a Trooper when you need them!  Hey, I’m a Trooper!


   I really wanted to meet this driver so I used my red lights and siren to get their attention.  I figured I had to use something to get the drivers attention because the driver obviously did not see a fully marked patrol car when they ran the railroad crossing in front of an oncoming train. 

   The driver, who happened to be a probationary driver, stopped and we had a very nice chat about railroad crossings and the law covering what a driver must do when the red flashing lights and bells are activated.  The driver even stated they knew they weren’t supposed to drive through the train signals – but did anyway.  I’m sure the driver will remember to drive safer in the future… 

  MCL 257.667 details a driver’s responsibilities at railroad crossings.  MCL 257.667 (1) states, “When a person driving a vehicle approaches a railroad grade crossing under any of the following circumstances, the driver shall stop the vehicle not more than 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of the railr4oad, and shall not proceed until the driver can do so safely:    

   (a) A clearly visible electric or mechanical signal device gives warning of the immediate approach of a railroad train. 

   (b) A crossing gate is lowered or a flagman gives or continues to give a signal of the approach or passage of a railroad train. 

   (c) A railroad train approaching within approximately 1,500 feet of the highway crossing gives a signal audible from that distance, and the train by reason of its speed or nearness to the crossing is an immediate hazard. 

(d) An approaching railroad train is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to the crossing

   (2) A person shall not drive a vehicle through, around, or under a crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while the gate is closed or is being opened or closed or against the direct of a police officer.

   Every year we hear of drivers racing the train to crossing and losing.  There is nothing good about a car–train crash.  The people in the car always lose. 

   "We learn wisdom from failure much more than success. We often discover what we will do, by finding out what we will not do." – Samuel Smiles

   If you have a question, please send it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or mail it to the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post, 4803 S. Old US-23, Brighton, MI   48114. 

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