Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory said his agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have launched a $4.3 million safety campaign "to educate the public about the dangers of rail grade crossings."
The agencies say the campaign has the message: "Stop. Trains Can't." The campaign includes a hard-hitting video (below).
Batory announced the price tag of that effort in remarks upon taking the helm of the Federal Railroad Administration, and said that would be just the start.
"Throughout my forthcoming tenure, increasing public awareness to rail safety will be a consistent priority of mine at FRA, not unlike that of my career past in the private sector," he said.
A former rail industry executive for various companies, Batory was president and chief operating officer of the Consolidated Rail Corp. from 2004 until his retirement last April.
Batory also said he has seen the safety crossing issue with his own eyes: "I can assure each of you that this subject matter will always be close to my heart, having personally experienced onboard locomotive collisions with highway vehicles during my career, and in one instance a school bus full of children that thankfully emptied seconds prior to striking it."
In a recent example, an Amtrak train carrying members of Congress to a Republican retreat struck a garbage truck on its tracks in Virginia on Jan. 31, killing one person in that vehicle. The driver had reportedly driven around grade crossing gates and into the train's path.
The new FRA chief said for that agency "rail safety is first and foremost. Its practice is noncompromising and nonnegotiable."
But he said the next thing "is a public awareness safety mission. Safety reaches beyond the railroad right of ways. Increasing public awareness is necessary, so people will make better decisions around crossings and tracks because most, if not all, trains can't stop short."
Here is that safety campaign video.
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