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California has strict railroad crossing requirements for operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and CDL drivers. If these requirements are not followed correctly, you could receive a traffic ticket, and if convicted, an immediate 60-day disqualification from professional driving is possible. What could be smarter than to consult with and hire an attorney to handle your ticket? 

According to the National Safety Council, each year, 4,000 accidents occur between trains and vehicles at railroad crossings.

Are the Requirements Different for Buses with Passengers than for Tractor-Trailers?

The old adage “Stop, Look, and Listen,” we were taught in school has been transformed into law for CDL drivers. Truck drivers and charter bus drivers are required to stop within 15 feet but not more than 50 feet from the first track. Even when there is no gate or flashing lights, they must roll down the window (buses must open their forward door), look both ways, and listen for an oncoming train. 

Further, before proceeding, the driver must ensure it is possible to get the vehicle across the tracks without stopping or shifting gears. However, if the bus stalls on the track, immediately evacuate all the passengers and move them diagonally back away from the oncoming train whether or not you hear or see a train. The train’s impact will hurl vehicle fragments to the sides and front of the train.   

This requirement is negated when the tracks run alongside the road in a business district or when a traffic enforcement officer is present. Since most drivers sit higher and can see further, it is advisable to make a determination of safety when a traffic enforcement officer signals you to cross.  

CDL drivers are reminded to periodically refresh their memories about railroad crossing regulations in California with the 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf

Railroad Crossing Disqualifications for CDL Drivers

As stated above, a railroad crossing conviction for a CDL driver is a “serious offense.” However, it is different than speeding 15 mph over, following too closely, an unsafe lane change, or others where your second conviction within three years is subject to disqualification. A railroad crossing conviction will get you an immediate 60-day disqualification.

Failure to follow the laws in and around railroad crossings could result in a conviction and fine at the state level. Plus, a civil penalty of up to $2,750 for drivers from the FMCSA. The penalty for trucking companies or charter bus fleets could be $11,000 for inadequate training or improper policies. 

Railroad crossing violations add an infraction to your driving record, ten Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) severity points, and a serious offense to your Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) record. With the zero-defect mentality at many firms, you could get terminated immediately. 

Likewise, many companies are short on drivers already, so they will likely not wait for you to serve your 60-day disqualification but replace you immediately. With a serious offense on your PSP, very few trucking or charter bus companies will take the risk of hiring you even in a market short of qualified drivers. 

Bigger & Harman, APC, You Call, We Resolve!

Every traffic ticket is unique, all of the evidence that is collected impacts the outcome of getting that ticket dismissed. Every possibility must be examined thoroughly. Without an attorney, your livelihood is at risk, which is why it is crucial to have a traffic attorney on your side. 

Commercial drivers must always stay on top of these railroad crossing requirements. When you overlook a requirement and get ticketed around Woodland, CA, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español 661.349.9755.

Send us an email,, with as much detail as you can remember. We will reply promptly. 


The 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf

The articleRailroad Crossings

The FMCSA CFR Sections 383 & 392Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Regulations
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