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AASHTO Journal

Caltrans Aims to Educate Students through New Rail Safety Campaign

A new interactive educational program to teach high school students about the importance of rail safety was launched last week by the California Department of Transportation in partnership with Amtrak and Operation Lifesaver.

The application, called "The Mysterious Adventure," encourages students to "Be Track Smart" by creating adventures for themselves and sharing the game with their friends on Facebook. The app follows a sort of Mad Libs template, creating a customized story for each participant based on that person's chosen words. The campaign each month conducts monthly drawings, where students may enter for a chance to win Amtrak California tickets.

"Safety is Caltrans's top priority and it is critical that students, particularly new drivers, grasp the significance of rail safety when approaching railroad crossings," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty in a statement. "By sharing the 'Be Track Smart' safety message through social media, we reach the online generation."

Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety education organization, stated that about 90 rail fatalities occur each year in the State of California. Organizers of the campaign hope they can prevent some of these "unnecessary" fatalities.

"Since 1972, our lifesaving rail safety message has promoted obeying laws and staying away from railroad tracks, which are private property," said Pete Aadland, executive director for California Operation Lifesaver. "California Operation Lifesaver is thrilled to work with Caltrans utilizing new media approaches to reach a defined segment of our target market."

Additional information on the "Be Track Smart" campaign is available at

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