Los Angeles – Today, Metrolink launched a multi-faceted advertising and public safety campaign appealing to pedestrians and motorists to stay safe around tracks and crossings. At the center of the multichannel campaign is an emotional video series that depicts real-life, potentially tragic results of unsafe behaviors that occur every day around the region’s railroad tracks.
The advertising is complemented with community outreach and direct intervention resources through a partnership with the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center.
“It is our top priority to keep people safe on our trains and near our railroad tracks,” said Metrolink Board Chair and Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian. “Metrolink has engineered the best possible safety measures at our railroad crossings, and law enforcement works hard to prevent life-threatening situations. We’ve found, however, that most incidents regarding trains can be avoided if pedestrians and motorists remain aware at all times.”
The campaign’s bilingual video series, produced by Los Angeles experiential agency DSRPTR, is designed to illustrate how Metrolink’s relationship with riders and the communities it serves is rooted in its stature as an essential service and that safety is a commitment for all. The videos are:
• Distracted Driver, in which a mother who is approaching a rail crossing is distracted by her young child in the back seat of her car with tragic consequences.
• Trespasser, depicting a young skateboarder listening to music on headphones who uses railroad tracks as a short cut with a potentially deadly result; and
• Jogger, showing a person so focused on his activity that he loses situational awareness at a railroad crossing.
The Metrolink Safety Campaign videos will be featured on Metrolink social media channels, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter as well as in the digital advertising using the hashtag #StaySafe. The advertising campaign is targeted specifically to reach people who are most vulnerable to accidents along the tracks and rail crossings. Additionally, shorter versions of the videos will be shown in selected Southern California Department of Motor Vehicles offices in Arleta, Santa Ana, and Rancho Cucamonga.
The Metrolink safety campaign also addresses the existence of homeless encampments that sometimes develop on or near railroad rights of way. Research indicates that when people in despair perceive that a method of ending their lives is close at hand, they might use it. In the case of railroad rights of way, a train can become a life-ending method. The effort utilizes the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services 24-hour crisis hotline 1-800-273-8255, to provide necessary resources.
“The past year’s unprecedented suffering, stress, and untreated mental health needs can each lead people to consider ending their own lives,” said Didi Hirsch Mental Health CEO Jonathan Goldfinger, MD, MPH, FAAP. “Our 24/7 crisis lines in English and Spanish have prevented an untold number of suicides. We’re proud to partner with Metrolink so everyone who feels hopeless or suicidal, or knows someone who does, can call without hesitation.”
The Didi Hirsch 24-hour crisis hotline is displayed on Metrolink electronic message boards at train platforms.
Metrolink works with federal and state funding partners, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California State Transportation Agency to develop efforts that improve conditions near tracks. An October 2018 Federal Railroad Administration study found that from November 2013 through October 2017, Los Angeles County had the most railroad trespasser fatalities in the nation with San Bernardino County ranking third and Riverside County rating seventh.
Metrolink’s safety campaign renews and refocuses outreach with community groups along with colleges and universities in those areas to continue educating people about how to help prevent future incidents.
“Our campaign stresses the importance of the ‘Three Es’: engineering to develop new ways to keep grade crossings safe, education that leads to safe behaviors, and enforcement of laws by direct action to stop unsafe actions where streets and railroads meet,” said Darrell Fizer, Interim Chief of Safety, Security and Compliance.
Additional elements of the safety campaign will be outreach to civic leaders, businesses, and schools near tracks to increase awareness, especially during Rail Safety Month in September. Metrolink’s 538 miles of track traverse a complex environment of dense urban centers, sprawling suburbs, agricultural and desert landscapes, requiring outreach and partnerships with local jurisdictions to find solutions to problems.
ABOUT METROLINK (metrolinktrains.com)
Metrolink is Southern California's regional passenger rail service enabling people to connect to their jobs and explore all that the region has to offer. Prior to the pandemic, Metrolink has nearly 12 million annual boardings from people who choose to ride the train to avoid gridlock, removing an estimated 9.3 million vehicles from the roads and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 130,000 metric tons each year. Metrolink is the largest passenger rail agency in California and the third largest in the United States operating seven lines along a 538-mile network that travels across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.