Tuesday, April 08, 2014

See Tracks? Think Train!

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
See Tracks? Think Train! Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) on March 8, 2014 launched a new public service advertising campaign called See Tracks? Think Train! that aims to reduce pedestrian and driver injuries and fatalities around railroad tracks by highlighting behaviors that put people at risk.

Launched with the help of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Association of American Railroads (AAR), and Railway Supply Institute (RSI), the PSA campaign features bilingual television, radio, print, and billboard advertisements aimed at educating drivers and pedestrians in the hopes of saving lives. See Tracks? Think Train! “highlights common risks drivers and pedestrians take each day, such as trying to beat a train at a grade crossing and walking on railroad tracks,” said OLI President and CEO Joyce Rose. “Pedestrians and drivers often do not realize how dangerous it is to walk on or near railroad tracks, or how long it takes the average freight train to stop. In fact, it can take a mile or more for a fully loaded train to come to a full stop, making it difficult for engineers to avoid a collision, even in an emergency situation.”

“Every day someone’s risky behavior around railroad tracks gets them injured or killed,” said Joyce Rose. “Our goal with this campaign is to make people think twice before doing something risky or unsafe. Ultimately it’s all about educating people and saving lives.”

Preliminary FRA data shows that 908 pedestrians were injured or killed while walking on or near railroad tracks in 2013. That’s up 7.7% from 843 pedestrians in 2012. Additionally, 1,193 people were injured or killed at railroad grade crossings, up 1.5% from 1,175 in 2012.

“In the past two years we have experienced record-breaking safety performance along with dramatic reductions over the past decade in the number of accidents and incidents in almost every category measured, with the noted exceptions of highway-rail grade crossings and trespassing incidents,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “It is more important than ever that we educate the public about the dangers of risky behavior around trains. Increased education, enforcement, and engineering can help reduce the number of rail-related fatalities.”

“Transit ridership on trains, light rail and streetcars, are at their highest levels since the 1950s. That growth carries with it a safety challenge, especially in this day and age of constant electronic distraction,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Therese W. McMillan. “We join in the chorus of voices urging people to be safe and alert whenever you’re near a railroad track.”

“People tempt fate every day around railroads tracks, whether they are racing to beat the train at a grade crossing or walking across the tracks to save time,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “We hope to raise public awareness that if you see railroad tracks, you should always think a train is coming and that attempting to beat a train is a losing proposition.”

“Safety is of paramount importance to the railway supply industry. As a founding supporter of Operation Lifesaver and its safety efforts, RSI is proud to stand behind this campaign,” said RSI President Tom Simpson. “Our member companies, who produce equipment for and provide services to freight, passenger, commuter, and light rail operations, know first-hand the importance of reminding drivers and pedestrians to always use caution around tracks and trains.”

“Education and outreach is key to saving lives, and the See Tracks? Think Train! PSAs will be supplemented with ongoing education efforts of OLI’s 50-state network of volunteers who work with the public through events at schools, with law enforcement, first responders, professional drivers and community organizations,” said Rose. “It’s up to all of us to raise awareness about the dangers associated with taking risks near railroad property. My hope is that See Tracks? Think Train! causes people to stay alert and make smart decisions when they are near a train.”

Visit www.SeeTracksThinkTrain.org to learn more, including infographics, and various creative executions of the PSA campaign.