Safety Program Virtually Puts Teens in Driver Seat

Large Retina | Inside Track: Public Safety Education Goes Virtual

Union Pacific's booth at TTI's virtual Teens in the Driver Seat event.

While many things are changing in today’s world, Union Pacific‘s safety commitment remains constant.

So when COVID-19 stopped many events in their tracks, the UP team turned its public safety education efforts virtual.

Buck Russel, senior supervisor-Public Safety, Law, recently participated in a handful of events hosted by one of UP’s Community Ties Giving Program regional partners, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), to address railroad safety with drivers.

For example, in connection with National Teen Driver Safety Week, Russel and others on the UP team joined TTI for a virtual Teens in the Driver Seat event. The program, full of virtual educational booths that participants could click on to engage with, started with a greeting from UP Chief Safety Officer Erin Batt, encouraging young attendees to take smart actions and educate others.

“Being new drivers, they’re bombarded with information,” Russel said. “This gave them a more direct approach to safety when it comes to the railroad and gets to them before they create bad habits.”

TTI’s “U in the Driver Seat app” launched following the event. It’s designed to educate young drivers on practicing safety behind the wheel and creating smart habits, such as putting down their devices and paying attention to the road, especially around railroad tracks.

UP also recently participated in a State Farm event for its employees across four districts.

With similar messaging, UP reached more than 40,000 people over the course of the day’s events.

“The safety message remains paramount,” said Richard Zientek, senior director-Public Affairs, Corporate Relations. “It’s great we have partners that can help us tailor our messages to these different audiences.”

While the new approach took some getting used to, Russel and Zientek know this new medium allowed for a much greater reach.

“Going virtual really opened our eyes on the amount of people we can reach at one time,” Russel said. “We got our safety message out there and reached a greater audience.”

With these events in the backseat, the team now looks forward to a couple spring events with TTI.

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