Countless movies of all genres depict car chases that see drivers racing across railroad tracks, escaping a crash with the oncoming train by a split second. The main characters look behind them, marveling that they survived the near-death experience.
In the real world, many drivers are not so fortunate. The physics are simple when a car tries to race a train. A multi-ton transport lacks the ability to swerve or quickly stop. Bearing down on a vehicle will result in serious injury or death of the motor vehicle occupants. Increasingly sophisticated technology to prevent these tragedies can only go so far.
Since 2015, nearly 800 Americans have lost their lives in these highly preventable collisions. Last year saw 126 people killed and another 635 injured. A vast majority of those were attempting to navigate around lowering crossing gate arms.
In response to these tragic fatalities, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the creation of an awareness campaign titled, “Stop. Trains Can’t.” The objectives are straightforward. Educate drivers on the deadly dangers of trying to cross tracks when trains are approaching and save lives at railroad crossings.
Managed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), ads will appear digitally and on the radio. Social media will also serve as a prominent platform.
The awareness initiative has targeted Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, California, Indiana and Texas.
The national public education campaign will be funded to the tune of $6.6 million. While many will consider it costly, saving one life from a train-on-car accident could make it money well spent.