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(a) (1) Except as provided in division (a)(2) of this section, the operator of any bus, any school vehicle, or any vehicle transporting material required to be placarded under 49 C.F.R. Parts 100 to 185, before crossing at grade any track of a railroad, shall stop the vehicle, and while so stopped, shall listen through an open door or open window, and look in both directions along the track for any approaching train and for signals indicating the approach of a train, and shall proceed only upon exercising due care after stopping, looking, and listening as required by this section. Upon proceeding, the operator of such a vehicle shall cross only in a gear that will ensure there will be no necessity for changing gears while traversing the crossing, and shall not shift gears while crossing the tracks.
(2) Division (a)(1) of this section does not apply at grade crossings when any local authority has filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission requesting the approval of an exempt crossing, and the Public Utilities Commission has authorized and approved an exempt crossing as provided Ohio R.C. 4511.63(B).
(3) As used in division (a)(1) of this section:
A. "Bus" means any vehicle originally designed by its manufacturer to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or carries 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
B. "Exempt crossing" means a highway rail grade crossing authorized and approved by the Public Utilities Commission under Ohio R.C. 4511.63(B) at which vehicles may cross without making the stop otherwise required by this section.
C. "School vehicle" means any vehicle used for the transportation of pupils to and from a school or school-related function if the vehicle is owned or operated by, or operated under contract with, a public or nonpublic school.
(4) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates division (a)(1) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one or more violations of division (a)(1) of this section or Ohio R.C. 4511.63, 4511.76, 4511.761, 4511.762, 4511.764, 4511.77, or 4511.79, or a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to any of those sections, whoever violates division (a)(1) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
(b) (1) As used in this section, “active grade crossing warning device” means signs, signals, gates, or other protective devices erected or installed at a public highway-railway crossing at common grade and activated by an electrical circuit .
(2) The Department of Transportation and local authorities, with the approval of the Department, may designate dangerous highway crossings over railroad tracks and erect stop signs thereat.
(3) A. The Department and local authorities shall erect stop signs at a railroad highway grade crossing in either of the following circumstances:
1. New warning devices that are not active grade crossing warning devices are being installed at the grade crossing, and railroad crossbucks were the only warning devices at the grade crossing prior to the installation of the new warning devices.
2. The grade crossing is constructed after July 1, 2013, and only warning devices that are not active grade crossing warning devices are installed at the grade crossing.
B. Division (b)(3)A. of this section does not apply to a railroad highway grade crossing that the Director of Transportation has exempted from that division because of traffic flow or other considerations or factors.
(4) When stop signs are erected pursuant to division (b)(2) or (b)(3) of this section, the operator of any vehicle shall stop within 50, but not less than 15, feet from the nearest rail of the railroad tracks and shall exercise due care before proceeding across such grade crossing.
(5) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates division (b)(4) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.
(c) If the offender commits the offense while distracted and the distracting activity is a contributing factor to the commission of the offense, the offender is subject to the additional fine established under § 408.02(b).