18.2 Campaign about safety


What does this measure refer to and what is its objective?

Mass media campaigns conducted at national or international level against trespassing aim to increase awareness of risks for users and people living close to the stations or tracks, regarding careless behaviour such as crossing or walking along the tracks (even in legal places such as level crossings). They consist of posters, communication in the press (TV, radio, paper), web sites, social networks, or events, aimed at the general public and describing the dangers related to the being on the tracks, and the consequences of an accident.


Best practice and lessons learned

  • Several different mass media / various communication channels can be used, either separately or jointly: communication in the press (TV, radio, paper), websites, social networks, or public events. Commercials or short films can be broadcast on television during prime time, but also included in movie theatres. One may also think of including posters and flyers distributed in stations, at locations where trespasses often occur and in police offices. A web-based campaign can be mixed with press releases.
  • Training for the personnel involved in carrying out the campaigns.
  • When targeting the campaign, segmentation techniques can be based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and/or behaviour variables, theoretical models, or the characteristics of the primary and secondary audiences. Crossing different segmentation criteria can be useful to achieve greater precision. The message, must be adapted to each segment (for detailed review see the CAST Report, Delhomme et al., 2009).

Warning points

Expected difficulties and issues you should pay attention to

  • The effect is likely to decline with time after the campaign, thus the measure needs repeating.
  • Effect is likely to remain stable as long as the public remembers the campaigns. So one recommendation would be to help the public remember the campaign though follow-up actions (e.g., flyers, posters, leaflets, short radio jingle, etc.)
  • Cultural reactions to the exposure to realistic accidents can be quite different between countries. Therefore, the potential shocking contents of a campaign should be designed according to the acceptance level in the targeted country.
  • Campaigns may undergo criticism due to relatives of victims or staff being painfully reminded of the accidents they had experienced. Such criticism may then itself be relayed in mass media, which may decrease the efficiency of the message.
  • There is a risk of cross-over effect as campaign against trespassing could have a negative effect on suicide: evoking the risk associated with trains (e.g. "trains can kill") may contribute to increasing the attractiveness of railways as a lethal method among persons already contemplating suicide.


Other points that you should not forget

  • Mass-media campaigns appear to work best in combination with other measures. They can be associated to other communication means such as information campaigns in stations or schools. It has been suggested to use communication campaigns as well to improve the acceptance of other measures such as fencing.

Study results

Data or other evidence supporting the measure's effectiveness

  • Increasing the amount of educational activity (e.g. Operation Lifesaver in Canada) will reduce the number of collisions at level crossings (Savage, 2006).
  • However the effect of public education campaigns on the number of deaths cannot be concluded with statistical certainty (Savage, 2006; Savage 2007).
  • A major campaign to educate level crossing users. This includes running a national television and radio campaign (Don’t run the risk and See track / think train), holding awareness days at level crossings, and working directly with schools and user groups (Morse & Taberneso, 2013).
  • There is evidence that pedestrian education campaigns have a higher likelihood of success compared to the ones targeted on drivers (Searle, Di Milia, & Dawson, 2012).
  • Public Education and Enforcement Research Study (PEERS) has shown the effectiveness of sustained education and enforcement programs to improve safety at highway-rail crossings (Sposato, Bien-Aime & Chaudhary, 2006).
  • Several different mass media campaigns (i.e. commercials on TV and movie theatres have been set in Sweden), but there has never been any evaluation done.

last update: 2022-02-01