WASHINGTON D.C. (KDKA) — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration relaunched a $5.6 million public safety awareness campaign “Stop. Trains Can’t.” Urging Americans to take greater care at highway-rail grade crossings.
“So many fatalities at highway-railway crossings are preventable and this campaign is key to raising public awareness and saving lives,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
In 2018, 270 people were killed at railroad crossing and 99 of those people died after the driver went around lowered gate arms, a 10-year high.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King met with Charlene Threats, a woman that lost her 17-year-old daughter Jazzmyne Ashworth in Tennessee when a train collided with her car while she was riding during summer 2018. That crash killed three people total.
“Road safety is NHTSA’s mission and too many lives are lost every year when drivers disregard safety warnings at rail crossings,” said King. “Working with Transportation secretary, Elaine L. Chao and FRA, we want every American to understand the danger surrounding rail crossing and to act with safety in mind. Trying to save a few minutes can cost you your life.”
Given their size and weight, both freight and passenger trains can’t stop easily to avoid cars or other vehicles on the tracks. Also, a train traveling 55 miles-per-hour can take more than a mile to stop, even when emergency brakes are used.
“We are pleased to collaborate with our colleagues at NHTSA to improve driver behavior at highway-rail crossings and reduce preventable injuries and deaths,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “Rail safety isn’t just about the safe movement of passenger and freight trains; it’s also about helping the American public be safe near railroad tracks.”
The campaign will take place with advertisements airing from Tuesday April 16 through Sunday May 12. It includes video spots that will run on digital and social platforms, radio advertising and social media messaging.