The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken to the airwaves in a mighty blitz. This time the subject isn’t roadways per se. It is a campaign to slow the rate of traffic fatalities caused by drivers trying to “beat the train.”
In concert with the Federal Railroad Administration, the NHTSA is advertising on popular television and radio shows. The ad spots tally the number of people who perish at railroad crossings, paying particular attention to crossings that do have traffic barriers. Surprisingly, these are the crossings that are hosting the most crashes.
The $7 million ad campaign, “Stop! Trains Can’t” is targeting male drivers aged 18 to 49 years of age. Those are the drivers who are statistically more likely to swerve around flashing railroad crossing gates in their attempt to save time. Male drivers are involved in nearly 75 percent of all railroad crossing accidents.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx had this to say about the issue and the ad campaign designed to help alleviate the problem.
“Too many people are still taking unnecessary risks and needlessly paying with their lives. These deaths are preventable, and this campaign is a reminder for everyone that ignoring signage at railroad crossings or attempting to race or beat a train can have deadly consequences.”
In order to get the message to the eyes and ears most in need of hearing it, popular sports and entertainment shows are being given the ad copy. These shows include “The Rich Eisen Show,” “The Herd,” and “Sportscenter.”
How bad is the problem? An average of 231 people a year have died at railroad crossings since 2010. Last year’s numbers were the worst in that period of time.
By law, trains always have the right of way. That makes sense because the behemoth rail transport vehicles aren’t able to be brought to a stop quickly by train personnel. A freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour takes a mile to come to a stop once the emergency brakes are applied.
While the railroad crossing safety ads will be seen and heard nationwide particular emphasis is being placed in the States where the problem is the most profound. These include California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Jersey, Arkansas, and Arizona.