The Department of Transportation kicked off a new railroad crossing safety campaign on Friday with a striking new video.
The ad, a collaborative effort between the Federal Railroad Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shows a freight train traveling through the outskirts of a city before crashing into the side of an SUV. The engineer appears to apply the brakes, but it cannot slow down quickly enough. The train travels some distance as the vehicle is violently dragged along the tracks.
The ad's title is "Stop. Trains Can't."
According to the FRA, it takes a freight train traveling at 55 mph a mile to come to a complete stop even with the emergency brake applied.
By law, a train always has the right of way.
"Education is key here - sometimes a driver is distracted, or in an unfamiliar area. Other times, the state highway department has not done enough to warn drivers they are approaching a crossing," said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. "We must do everything we can to give drivers the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe - and this ad helps us do just that."
According to federal data, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States approximately every three hours.
"Too many people are still taking unnecessary risks and needlessly paying with their lives," according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "These deaths are preventable, and this ad campaign is a reminder for everyone that ignoring signage at railroad crossings or attempting to race or beat a train can have deadly consequences."
The Department of Transportation is spending $7 million to run the ad, which targets males between the ages of 18 and 49 in the areas where railroad crossing accidents are particularly problematic.
The ads will run in California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Jersey, Arkansas and Arizona.
In April, the FRA listed the most troublesome railroad crossings in the United States. Using data from the last 10 years, four of the five crossings with the most incidents are in Arizona.
There have been 24 incidents since 2006 at this Phoenix crossing. None of the incidents were fatal.