An LIRR train hits a computer-generated car in this PSA campaign designed to discourage people from ignoring downed crossing gates.
An LIRR train hits a computer-generated car in this PSA campaign designed to discourage people from ignoring downed crossing gates (MTA).

The Long Island Rail Road has launched an advertising campaign to combat an increase in people ignoring downed crossing gates resulting in trains crashing into vehicles and pedestrians, often with fatal consequences.

The “Wait for the Gate” public safety campaign will include television, radio and print advertising targeting Long Islanders in addition to six outdoor billboard locations near LIRR stations.

“It only takes a fraction of a second to make a very bad decision,” the narrator says in the 15-second video showing a computer-generated car being driven around a downed crossing gate before its hit by an LIRR train. “Your life is worth the wait.”

There have been nine pedestrians or vehicles struck by trains at a few of the LIRR’s 295 crossings so far this year, including six fatalities and one suicide. Last year there were 11 such incidents resulting in six deaths, half of which were suicides. And in 2011 there were a half dozen crossing collisions, including two fatalities, one of which was a suicide. In 2010, there were four incidents, none of them fatal.

Although the scene depicting a train hitting a car is fake, the image of a mangled vehicle at the end of the video is real. Both occupants were killed.

“Sadly, it’s a scene that plays out too often,” said LIRR President Helena Williams. “We have addressed the crossing gate problem in public service announcements time and again over the years and felt it was time to raise our voice once more.”

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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.