Railroads across the US are starting a new marketing campaign to highlight the dangers of being close to railroad tracks, after an increase in railway deaths in 2013.
At this time a year ago, railroads were saying that 2012 was their safest year ever; derailments and crossing accidents were in decline. But in 2013, the number of trespassing deaths went up by 47 to a total of 476 for the year. The number of deaths in accidents increased by 8% to 250.
The rates do vary from year to year, and there are many theories why there was an increase last year. Nonetheless, it has prompted federal regulators to come up with a new public campaign that is aimed at cutting down accidents. Ads are being released this week that focus on how people and cars can easily die when they get too close to a moving train.
"We need to make sure people understand the danger they're putting themselves in on the rails," said Joyce Rose, CEO of Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about railroad hazards.
She noted that it is not easy to figure out why deaths went up last year, but she thinks it could be related to smart phones, mp3 players and other electronics. These devices can distract people from dangerous things going on around them.
The main TV commercial for the new PR campaign is called ‘See Tracks? Think Train.’ It shows a man walking along railroad tracks while wearing headphones. He is not aware that a train is approaching behind him.
Mark Kalina, who lost both of his legs in a train accident, fully supports the new campaign. The 24 year-old told the media recently that he made a terrible decision when he tried to walk around a stopped train to get to his house in Columbus, OH. The train began to move, and his shirt got caught. He climbed onto the train to get his shirt free, but he then fell under the train.
The new PR campaign on train safety is backed by the Association of American Railroads trade group, major railroads and the Federal Railroad Administration.