Members of Union Pacific’s Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety program, known as UP CARES, work to instill safety awareness in community members of all ages, especially students.
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Together with the Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) and Total Safety Culture (TSC) programs, volunteers with UP CARES promote and facilitates rail safety awareness presentations at the community level, said Billy Rodgers, a locomotive engineer in New Braunfels, Texas.
For example, UP CARES volunteers recently worked with OLI and TSC members to spread a safety message at Theodore Roosevelt High School in San Antonio for the school’s second annual Safe Driving Event.
Rodgers, a TSC alumnus, participated in the event alongside TSC Facilitators and Brakepersons Beau Beam and Justin Winston, who showed a video and distributed railroad safety pamphlets and promotional items.
“The overwhelmingly positive response was a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team,” said Rodgers, who noted they typically connect with around 1,500 students during the spring event.
In Rison, Arkansas, elementary school students got a hands-on opportunity to learn about rail safety thanks to UP CARES efforts.
“It really clicked in me the importance of educating our children about railroad safety – many of my students live close to the tracks,” said Laura Burns, program director for Early Childhood Education in Cleveland County School District.
Burns values a hands-on approach to teaching safety awareness, which she said solicits true learning, sharing that roughly one-third of her program’s students receive services for special needs.
The Rison Elementary School students could see and feel a 70-pound deactivated locomotive horn, which came from the locomotive shop in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and hear its recorded sounds.
“Teaching them what this sound means and encouraging them to stay away from the tracks is huge,” Burns said.
For more information, go to UPCARES.com to download rail safety PSA’s and find additional rail safety information and links to our rail safety partners. And if you have a passion for public safety and would like to become a UP CARES volunteer, please contact Buck Russel or Lawrence Wenko to schedule training and get involved.