Caltrans officials admit it isn’t easy convincing teens to take rail safety seriously.
“Kids today, unfortunately think they are invincible and we want to tell these kids ‘you’re not invincible.’”
Debbie Mullins is with Caltrans’ rail division. She says statistically, teens take more risks behind the wheel or even as pedestrians…listening to mp3 players with headphones on or using their cell phones.
So, Caltrans has helped launch a statewide campaign called “Respect the Rails”. It’s a six-week tour of high schools up-and-down the state.
The teens are given a rail safety quiz and some prizes. But what really gets their attention is a simulated accident scene.
“They kind of stop and they stare at it for a while and you know it’s having an effect on them.”
What they’re staring at is an ambulance towing a life-size model of a car that’s been severely crushed by a train.
“Just the shear power of a car that’s completely smashed really hits these kids.”
Mullins says California leads the nation in pedestrian-related railroad crossing deaths. Since 2007, there have been more than 120 fatalities.