Posts Tagged ‘WAZE’

NS Revives Grade Crossing Safety Campaign

September 25, 2020

During Rail Safety Week Norfolk Southern revived a public awareness campaign about its Waze mobile application that seeks to warn motorists approaching grade crossings.

NS uses the Waze app to provide specific safety tips.

“This partnership [with Waze] gives us a chance to reach people that may not otherwise receive these safety messages, and with 30 million Waze users in the United States alone, that is powerful,” said Jason Morris, the NS assistant vice president of safety and environmental.

The NS campaign will provide safety information when motorists approach crossings that have a high number of crossing incidents.

Motorists will see advertisements in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina and Ohio.

NS implemented a similar campaign in 2019 using Waze and said in a news release that areas targeted last year experienced a drop in grade crossing incidents.

The latest NS campaign began in mid-September in advance of National Rail Safety Week (Sept. 21-27).

NS to Expand Grade Crossing Safety Program in 2020

January 16, 2020

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana are among nine states in which Norfolk Southern in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration and Operation Lifesaver is intensifying efforts to promote grade crossing safety and discourage trespassing on railroad property.

NS public safety director Will Miller described those efforts at a safety conference hosted by the FRA last year.

The Class 1 carrier began a pilot program last March to incorporate a grade crossing warning feature into Google’s Waze mobile navigation app.

The states chosen for the pilot program, which also include Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, have the highest number of vehicle-rail incidents.

“We looked at areas that had crossings that were close together, that had been problematic for us over time,” Miller said. “We worked with Waze to set up a parameter — which is 5 kilometers in radius — and anytime a Waze user is completely stopped within this targeted area, they will see a brief pop-up safety message.”

The pop-up messages say either “The train you see is closer and moving faster than you think” or “Trains go faster than you think; be cautious when crossing.”

Miller said the warning messages were kept brief to avoid becoming a distraction to drivers.

Safety officials say distracted driving is one factor behind an increase in grade crossing collisions in 2018, the latest year for which figures are available.

The FRA said there were 2,217 collisions at public and private crossings in the United States in 2018, which was up from 2,123 in 2017, 2,049 in 2016 and 2,080 in 2015.

Although the fatalities in those accidents fell to 262 in 2018 from 271 in 2017, the deaths in 2018 outpaced the figures in 2016 (255) and 2015 (237) and tied 2014’s total.

The FRA said these fatalities account for 95 percent of all U.S. rail-related fatalities each year.

Miller said that between March and September of last year, the NS warning campaign reached more than 1 million different Waze users.

“We have found that Waze is successful in providing motorist safety information within targeted areas to help motorists make good decisions at railroad crossings,” he said.

NS plans to expand its use of Waze this year in the nine states it has targeted. The carrier also is creating an online and social media campaign of public service announcements about how to safely cross railroad tracks.

During a November symposium hosted by the FRA, the agency described 16 “actionable” ideas for safety improvements that it is exploring.

The agency has proposed a rule for 40 states to create grade crossing action plans and for 10 other states that already have such plans to update them. Ohio and Indiana are among the latter states.

Although trespassing on railroad property can occur anywhere, an FRA study found nearly 75 percent of all trespasser deaths and injuries occurred within 1,000 feet of a grade crossing.

FRA officials also say they will continue to fund educational programs that help raise rail safety awareness, such as those promoted by Operation Lifesaver.

OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh said at the FRA symposium that the increase in collisions and deaths at crossings is largely due to distracted motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians.

“People want to get to where they’re going quickly and they’re not paying attention,” Maleh says. “They don’t want to wait for a train at a crossing.”

Maleh said OLI has begun working with “nontraditional” partners to promote grade crossing safety.

She said this includes organizations that have a safety focus but may not be thinking specifically about railroad safety. An example of that are organizations that seek to discourage drunken driving.

NS Partners With WAZE in Crossing Safety Campaign

September 26, 2019

Norfolk Southern will launch a pilot safety campaign to focus on grade crossing incident prevention at six locations including cities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky.

The carrier said it will partner with mobile navigation application WAZE to target drivers with messages promoting safety at and near railroad crossings.

Receiving special attention will be Toledo, Ohio; Gary, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

NS noted that in Gary there have been 28 grade crossing incidents at nine crossings since 1990. Toledo has had 14 incidents at seven crossings since 1981, the east side of Louisville has recorded 40 incidents at 12 crossings since 2000, and in Allegheny County there have been six incidents at five crossings since 2007.

NS said it will use WAZE to provide drivers near railroad crossings with messages promoting grade crossing safety information.

The application will deliver banner notifications to WAZE users who cross into a “geo fence” encompassing several traditionally problem crossings in the targeted areas.

The messages will be sent even if a driver does not drive across a grade crossing.

The notifications will include a crossbuck graphic and a grade crossing safety-inspired message, along with a link to a website with more railroad safety information.

To avoid contributing to distracted driving, the notifications will be delivered once the user’s vehicle stops.

WAZE has 30 million users in the United States and is free to download.

The pilot program will run through the end of 2019.