Ohio House Bill 372 (Grim/Hoops) and Ohio Senate Bill 233 (DeMora/Kunze), known informally as Stop, Look, and Listen, closes a gap in the statute by giving railroad equipment other than trains the same protections at public road crossings. HB372/SB233 have bipartisan support and similar language has passed the House in prior General Assemblies.

Track maintenance has evolved dramatically during the last generation of railroading. Gone are the sledgehammers and hand-driven spikes, having been replaced by technologically advanced track repair equipment. These new machines vary in size from truck-based inspection and light repair vehicles to purpose-built equipment that is hundreds of feet long and weigh nearly a thousand tons. The growing size of these machines leaves a growing gap in the statute that Stop, Look, and Listen fixes.

HB372/SB233 add four words to the Ohio Revised Code – “and other on-track equipment” – when discussing interactions between the public and rail equipment on the rails. This simple, common-sense bill is wildly popular, having passed in 36 other states and introduced in 4 more including Ohio. It is supported by rail labor, by the rail industry, and by rail safety organizations across the country.

Unique to Ohio, HB372/SB233 add a provision for a judge to offer remedial training in lieu of fine or sentence. We are mindful that we are changing the rules for drivers and want to make sure that a new or unaware driver has the chance to be trained on the law and not harshly punished.

Ohio is one of the top five states in both rail miles and railroad crossing density. Crossing safety, both for the employees of the railroad and for the general public should be a top priority. Stop, Look, and Listen will improve Ohio’s grade crossing safety, cost nothing to the taxpayers or the railroad companies, and we are unaware of any opposition to the bill.

HB372 unanimously passed the House Transportation Committee on April 23. No opponent testimony was presented.