Like every other driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, David Ragan is used to signing autographs for fans. But during the race weekend at Richmond International Raceway, the driver of the No. 34 Ford will be collecting signatures for the hood of his race car as a pledge to exercise safety around railways as part of the CSX "Play it Safe" campaign.
On Friday, April 26, NASCAR fans will sign the pledge that will make their signature part of the car that will race in the April 27 event.
Ragan, who partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation last year to educate drivers of the dangers of distracted driving, welcomed the opportunity to be part of another safety message.
"Distracted driving is unfortunately very widespread, and it's impossible to bring too much attention to this issue, but exercising that same caution around railroad tracks and crossings as drivers and pedestrians is something too many people don't even think of," says Ragan. "It can take a train up to a mile to stop, and every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train."
"We're proud to partner with the team that has been most associated with driver safety," says Gary Sease, Corporate Communications Director. "David is a great spokesperson, and we hope his passion for this issue will translate into helping us make the roads and our rails safer. If we save just one life, it's worth it."
As the primary sponsor for the Richmond race, CSX will use the entire car to promote safety. In addition to the hood of signed safety pledges, the No. 34 Ford will feature the "I brake for trains" bumper sticker, both quarter panels and the hood will display the "Play it Safe" campaign tagline and other messages. Ragan is utilizing social media and encourages his fans to help promote the message with the #PlayItSafe hashtag as it will be seen on his car.
"The most likely person to be involved in a train-car or train-pedestrian collision is a male 18 to 34 years old, so NASCAR provides the perfect audience to get out this important message," says Sease.
In addition to NASCAR, the "Play it Safe" campaign targets college students in campuses intersected by railroad tracks and includes billboards placed strategically near rail crossings, online advertising, social media and other communications that urge caution.
Other executions in the series include the lines, "No Guts, No Gory," "Open up a giant can of safety" and "Born to be mild."