A moving train has become a metaphor for an unstoppable force.  Once you get that Iron Horse a chuggin' and those cars a rollin', there's not much that can stop a train except itself, and that takes a while.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "A freight train travelling at 55 mph takes a mile—the length of 18 football fields or more— to come to a stop even with the emergency brake applied."  A train can't swerve to avoid things in its path, like automobiles.

The NHTSA says, "...approximately every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States."  In 2016, 232 people died at railroad crossings.  That is why, in January of this year, The U.S. Department of Transportion (DOT), the NHTSA  and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) together launched the "Stop! Trains Can't" campaign.  It's a two-year initiative aimed at young male motorists urging them to make wise choices at railroad crossings. The aim is to reduce accidents, and ultimately fatalities, at railroad crossings around the country.

The $7 million ad campaign is running in the states where the 15 most dangerous crossings are located, and in those where 75% of the crossing accidents occurred in 2015.  Louisiana happens to be among those states.

U.S. railroad companies are doing their part, as well.  Today, Union Pacific Railroad (UPR) is taking Shreveport Police officers and media personnel on a ride in the cab of a locomotive.  Officers riding inside the locomotive will observe motorist behavior at railroad crossings, and if motorists ignore signals and warnings, they will will be able dispatch officers who will be positioned nearby.  Additionally, officers will be looking for pedestrians crossing or walking on the tracks. The operation combines the efforts and resources of the Shreveport Police Department and Union Pacific Police.

The rides will begin at 11:00am and the last trip will start at 1:00pm today.  The train will travel between LA 3132 and Kings Highway in Shreveport.


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