At the center of the campaign are billboards featuring a graphic representing a crossing arm and the message “Always expect a train,” with a graphic of a person about to cross the tracks with a train in the background and the message “Some shortcuts cut your life short.” UP says an estimated 529,000 Chicago residents will view these messages each day during the next eight months.
The messages are displayed on 11 billboards located in various locations on I-294 (the Tri-State), I-90 (the Kennedy), Mannheim Rd., Belmont Ave., Milwaukee Ave., W. Irving Park, Caldwell Ave., and Touhy Ave. “These billboards will remind people of their surroundings and keep them safe around railroad tracks,” said Wes Lujan, UP Assistant Vice President, Government Affairs for Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. “Trains are operating at all times on railroad tracks, and our No. 1 priority is the safety of our employees and communities. We encourage drivers and pedestrians to follow all laws regarding grade crossings and railroad safety.”
In addition to the billboard campaign, Union Pacific’s UP CARES initiative promotes pedestrian and driver safety through a variety of outreach channels:
• Grade crossing education and enforcement, during which motorists violating rail crossing signage and laws are educated about the dangers of such actions. Related “positive enforcement” initiatives reward drivers who operate safely at grade crossings.
• Safety trains, hosting local law enforcement, media, and public officials and providing them the opportunity to ride in the locomotive cab and see traffic violations from a locomotive engineer’s point of view. “This also allows us to connect with community leaders and help them better understand the railroad's safety focus,” Lujan said
• Communication blitzes, which educate the public via community events, media outreach, and paid advertising. Media outreach coincides with safety trains in UP communities.