The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI) Youth Transportation Safety (YTS) Program has been awarded a 3-year grant from Union Pacific Railroad to deliver safety messages to Texas’ youth. Union Pacific is one of America’s leading railroad franchises with operations in 23 states. In 2018, Union Pacific awarded grants through their Community Ties Giving Program, which focuses on three cause areas: Safety, Workforce Development, and Community Spaces.
Since young drivers experience the highest rate of transportation-related fatalities, it is essential to focus educational outreach efforts to this target audience. TTI’s YTS Program, through the Texas A&M Foundation, secured $340,000 to help advance multiple safety initiatives within the program.
Currently, YTS operates two peer-to-peer education programs: Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS), which focuses efforts on junior high and high school-aged teens, and U in the Driver Seat (UDS), which focuses on college students. In Texas this past year, TDS reached over 230,000 students covering 144 high schools and 47 middle schools. UDS reached 20 different colleges in 20 counties. This partnership with Union Pacific will help YTS expand current activities within TDS and UDS, as well as develop new educational campaigns.
“One of our priorities is encouraging safe behaviors and preventing accidents through education and awareness,” said Richard Zientek, Director of Public Affairs at Union Pacific. “We believe TTI’s Youth Transportation Safety Program, and its many initiatives, are a great way to spread this important safety message.”
Through this grant, YTS will add a new railroad safety component to their campaigns. Schools will receive resource kits and tools that include information that addresses issues of driving and walking safely (and legally) near railroads. The grant will also assist YTS with expansion of their bicycle and pedestrian safety efforts, as well as support the next generation of the TDS smartphone app.
“We are very excited about this new partnership with Union Pacific,” said Russell Henk, YTS Program Manager. “This multi-year support is important to the sustainability of our program, and ultimately, will help save lives of America’s teen drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.”