Quiet Zone & Reporting Train Horn Violations
A Quiet Zone is a section of rail line at least one half mile in length containing one or more consecutive public highway-rail grade crossings at which locomotive horns are not routinely sounded. Routine sounding can be silenced at specific highway-rail grade crossings after a safety system or procedure established by the appropriate traffic control authority is determined, by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), to be an effective substitute for the locomotive horn. In the City of Placentia, there is an Quiet Zone, which became effective on August 18, 20017 and extends from Kraemer Boulevard to Kellogg Drive.
In addition, OCTA partnered with eight cities along the OCTA–owned rail corridor to implement rail safety enhancements that provided the cities with the opportunity to establish a quiet zone. Crossings in the cities of Anaheim, Dana Point, Irvine, Orange, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, and Tustin have established quiet zones. To view a map of the locations of all of the railroad crossing locations in Orange County with established quiet zones, please click here: Railroad Crossing Locations with Quiet Zones.
How to Report a Train Horn Violation
Federal law requires train engineers to do a routine sounding of their train horns – two long bursts, a short burst and one long burst – every time a train approaches a railroad crossing, unless the crossing is within a quiet zone. Within a quiet zone, routine soundings are prohibited. Non-routine soundings of the train horn are allowed within a quiet zone when a train engineer determines that the horn should be sounded to prevent imminent injury, death, or property damage. Below are examples of situations under which a train engineer would do a non-routine sounding of the train horn within a quiet zone:
- Construction or maintenance work on or near the train tracks
- Pedestrians, animals, vehicle operators, trespassers or crews on or near the train tracks
- Active grade crossing warning devices are malfunctioning, temporarily out of service, or not visible
A potential horn violation in a quiet zone would include the constant sounding of the specific routine horn pattern mentioned above, during a non-emergency situation. To report a potential train horn violation, please contact the Public Works Department at (714) 993-8148 and provide as much information as possible. Information required to report a violation includes:
- Contact information for person(s) who witnessed the violation
- Identify the City railroad crossing
- Date of the violation
- Person(s) who witnessed the violation
- Time the horns started and ended
- Train direction of travel
- Train engine number
Unfortunately, violations may occur at any time, so if you are unable to provide all the information requested, we will still use any information provided. The complaint will be kept on file with the City and forwarded to both the appropriate railroad and the Federal Railroad Administration with a request to take action. You may also report a potential train horn violation directly to the Federal Railroad Administration at: FRA Violation Report Form.
Safety at Railroad Crossings
It is very important to stay clear of the railroad right of way. Never use tracks as a path or walkway. Not only will this cause the engineer to blow the horn, but it is dangerous and illegal.
When pulling up to a railroad crossing, do not drive all the way up to the crossing gates. You are required to stop and wait at the "Stop Here" signs, or you will receive a traffic ticket. An engineer that observes vehicles pulled all the way up to the crossing gate will blow the horn to warn motorists of their approach. It is important to remember that train engineers will sound the horn as a warning:
- If the automatic warning and traffic signal devices are malfunctioning or out of service
- If there is a safety concern at the station (however as required the train rings the engine bell upon arriving and leaving the train station)
- In an area where construction crews are within or along the railroad right-of-way
- In an emergency
- When there is a trespasser on the tracks
- OCTA - Information about Quiet Zones
- Federal Railroad Administration – The “Train Horn” Final Rule Summary
- Federal Railroad Administration - The Train Horn Rule and Quiet Zones