New York State hosts 3,500 miles of railroad track, with over 2,700 at-grade railroad crossings. Twenty-two people were killed in New York during 2019 due to train collisions, but nearly every collision occurring at railroad crossings could have been prevented if drivers followed safety procedures.
In an effort to save lives, New York Operation Lifesaver and TravelCenters of America have teamed up to educate professional drivers about a little-known part of railroad safety operation in the United States, the Emergency Notification System.
Every public railroad crossing in the United States has a blue and white an Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign, but very few drivers, be they members of the general public or trained professional drivers, are aware of the existence of the ENS sign.
The signs instructs you about what to do if your vehicle is stuck on the tracks: Get out of the vehicle; move away from the tracks; and call the number on the Emergency Notification System sign.
The sign also says: "Freight trains take a mile or more to stop. Don't put yourself and others in danger. Call the ENS number. Only they can stop the train!"
Trucks hauling large loads often use trailers with low clearance. Due to the low clearance, these types of trailers can and do get hung up at raised railroad crossings.
The ENS sign provides information about who to call when stuck on or near the tracks, and the crossing’s location. With the information on the ENS sign, railroads can avert a tragedy.
New York Operation Lifesaver’s multifaceted public safety campaign targets professional drivers with public service announcements at gas stations and at rest areas, as well as using Geofence advertising techniques to send ads and videos to this target audience.
The campaign will use these geofence techniques at all TravelCenters of America locations in New York, while also employing posters and hand cards to reinforce the message. Several locations in Western NY will be used in this campaign, including the TravelCenters of America Corfu location at 8420 Alleghany Road, and NYS Thruway service areas Angola and Clarence.
“We want to show all drivers that the ENS system can stave off tragedies,” said Phil Merens, state coordinator of New York Operation Lifesaver. “It’s a shame that so few people know about the blue and white ENS sign at every at-grade railroad crossing.
"We’re extremely excited to be working with TravelCenters of America on this campaign. They’re one of the largest and best run truck stop operators in the U.S., and their participation in this campaign will help us reach an enormous number of professional drivers across New York.”
“When New York Operation Lifesaver approached us about partnering on this safety campaign, we realized this outreach effort could save the lives of some of the hardest working people in America, professional drivers,” said Barry Richards, president of TravelCenters of America.
“These heroic men and women have kept this country moving through COVID-19 and we’re happy to do anything to help keep these professional drivers safe while working so hard for everyone in this nation.”
During the course of New York Operation Lifesaver’s safety campaign, the ENS message has been seen over a million times, with millions of on-line ads and video plays still to come as the campaign continues through October. It is estimated that due to TravelCenters of America’s partnership in this campaign, that every day nearly a thousand New Yorkers will see the ENS posters or receive a hand card educating them about ENS basics.
“We’re incredibly lucky to have the access to professional drivers where they work. Our partnership with TravelCenters of America is an example of corporate community engagement for a great cause; saving lives,” Merens said.