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Norfolk Southern finding “Waze” to promote rail safety

Norfolk, Va. - Sep 23, 2020

In recognition of National Rail Safety Week, Norfolk Southern is relaunching a successful public awareness campaign to educate motorists about highway-rail grade-crossing safety. Building off successes in 2019, the railroad is using the Waze mobile app to target drivers approaching railroad crossings with specific safety tips.

With national statistics reporting an accident between a person or vehicle and a train every three minutes, this awareness is needed.

“This partnership 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 Norfolk Southern Assistant Vice President Safety and Environmental Jason Morris. “Accidents with trains may not get the same attention in this country as highway incidents, but they almost always have negative consequences for everyone involved. With education they can be prevented, and that’s the goal of this campaign.”

Norfolk Southern’s ad blitz kicked off in mid-September as a lead into the annual observance of National Rail Safety Week, an international awareness effort conducted the last week of September and led by Operation Lifesaver Inc. and its Mexican and Canadian counterparts. OLI is a nonprofit rail-safety education organization that provides training and messaging through local chapters across the country.

This effort is independent of recent work by the FRA to supply rail crossing data to the Waze app. Norfolk Southern’s aim is to provide education and awareness. This year’s messaging stresses the importance of putting personal safety first. “Leveraging the Waze app allows us to select areas of our system where we have significant train volume and a history of highway vehicle train incidents,” said Norfolk Southern Public Safety Director Will Miller. “By using a zero speed takeover, Waze users within a defined geographical boundary will see a safety message on their device when their vehicle is stopped. It will say either ‘Tracks nearby. Be smart. Be safe,’ or ‘Your Safety Starts with You. Cross Carefully.’ These messages are intended to urge people to think about how they behave around train tracks and to make the right decision to keep themselves and anyone in the vehicle safe.”

For the campaign, Norfolk Southern will target areas with high numbers of grade-crossings and crossing incidents. Over the next several months, drivers will see the ads in: Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Macon and Duluth, Georgia; Dunlap and Fort Wayne, Indiana; Gastonia and Greensboro, North Carolina; Harrisburg and Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Memphis and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Manassas and Suffolk, Virginia; Summerville and Spartanburg, South Carolina and Sandusky and North Olmstead, Ohio. These communities served by Norfolk Southern contain 749 at-grade railroad crossings and have recorded 1,383 highway vehicle-rail incidents, 420 of those occurring since 2000.

Based on the success of the 2019 campaign, Morris is hopeful that this year’s efforts will achieve the goal of enhancing public safety across the railroad’s operating territory. “The areas that were reached in 2019 have seen a reduction in incidents, which is an encouraging trend as we start this new round.”

About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 19,500 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern is a major transporter of industrial products, including chemicals, agriculture, and metals and construction materials. In addition, the railroad operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a principal carrier of coal, automobiles, and automotive parts.

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