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Quiet Zones

Effective June 24, 2005, the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) train horn rule allows road authorities to establish "quiet zones," prohibiting the routine use of train horns on a designated section of rail line. Road authorities must establish the quiet zone through a designation or application process with the FRA.

MDOT's routine participation in quiet zone establishment is limited to tracking and inspecting public crossings. The primary role is to inspect the placement of any railroad safety devices at public crossings to ensure compliance with Part 8C of the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD).

Road authorities are required by the FRA to keep the division informed throughout the process. Once the division is notified of a pending establishment, an on-site inspection will be performed to ensure there are no MMUTCD deficiencies prior to quiet zone establishment.

Federal Requirements for Train Horns at Crossings

FRA Required Conditions:

  • At least one-half mile long.
  • Can include one or more consecutive public, private and pedestrian crossings.
  • Flashing-light signals, half-roadway gates and constant-warning-time circuitry for all public crossings.
  • Additional minimum qualifying conditions are determined by the level of risk, as calculated by the FRA.


Kris Foondle, Rail Safety Manager