What is a Quiet Zone?
Quiet Zones are areas in which trains do not blow their horn during normal operation. All crossings within a quiet zone are equipped with supplemental safety measures, paid for by the community. Quiet Zones are funded by communities seeking to decrease noise levels resulting from the FRA Train Horn Rule.
Not all portions of track are eligible to become Quiet Zones. Features of the Quiet Zone are:
- Trains will not sound horns during normal operation
- Horn may still be sounded for emergency situations or other safety reasons
- Crossings within a Quiet Zone have supplemental safety features
No Train Horn Sign
The quickest way to recognize an active Quiet Zone is to identify a ‘No Train Horn’ sign adjacent to the crossing. Train engineers still reserve the right to blow the horn when appropriate.
FRA Train Horn Rule
The FRA Train Horn Rule (49 CFR 222) requires the engineer to sound the horn under various circumstances including when a train is approaching and passing through a public highway-rail grade crossing. According to FRA rules, train horns must:
- Be within 96 and 110 decibels, a sound level equivalent to that of a lawn mower
- Be sounded at least 15 seconds but no more than 20 seconds before reaching a crossing
- Be sounded no more than a quarter of a mile from a crossing if the train is traveling faster than 60 MPH
- Be sounded approaching persons on or near the track
- Be sounded in a standardized pattern of 2 long, 1 short and 1 long blasts. The pattern must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab car occupies the grade crossing.
Do Not Stop on Tracks
Because trains pass through Quiet Zones without blowing their horn, it’s important to avoid all distractions around train tracks. When approaching any railroad crossing remember:
- Do not stop on tracks
- Keep behind the white line if traffic is stopped in front of you
- Make sure your vehicle can clear the tracks completely before crossing
If you are crossing as the gates begin to lower, continue forward. The gates in front of you will close after a time delay of approximately 8 minutes, giving your vehicle time to complete crossing the tracks. In the event your vehicle is stuck between gates, it is best to break the gate in front of you, rather than remain in the path of the oncoming train.
Supplemental Safety Features
Each highway-rail grade crossing located within a proposed quiet zone must be equipped with the active warning devices including flashing lights and gates, as well as constant warning train detection systems and power-out indicators.