Over the past five years, nearly 800 people have lost their lives while attempting to drive across railroad tracks, which is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration have re-launched a $5.6 million public safety awareness campaign.
Known as Stop. Trains Can't., the goal of the campaign is to remind drivers about the risks of an approaching train at highway-rail grade crossings, especially when they see warnings such as flashing lights or gate arms in motion.
Stop. Trains Can't. includes video spots that will appear on digital and social platforms, radio advertising, and social media messaging.
In America, every four hours a person or vehicle is struck by a train at a rail crossing.
In 2018, vehicles crossing railroad tracks were responsible for a total of 270 fatalities. Moreover, 336 drivers went around a gate and were struck by a train; 99 people died in those crashes, marking a 10-year high of that specific type of incident.
In every state, it is illegal for a driver to go around a lowered crossing gate or to ignore signs or flashing lights posted at a railroad crossing. Trains always have the right-of-way because they cannot stop on a dime.
A freight train traveling 55 mph can take more than a mile to come to a full halt, even when emergency brakes are applied. Passenger trains, too, cannot stop suddenly, due to their size and weight.
The public safety campaign is scheduled to run from April 16 to May 12. Though national in scope, ads will be targeted to high-incident communities in the following 16 states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas.