Skip to main content

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Awards $219,000 for Crossing Safety Public Awareness Campaigns

By Operation Lifesaver

WASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2017 – Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), today announced $219,000 in grants to Operation Lifesaver programs in 15 states. The grants will fund a variety of highway-rail grade crossing safety public education projects in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s upcoming U.S. Rail Safety Week, September 24-30, 2017.

Funded by FHWA, the grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin. These state programs will use the funding on public awareness campaigns and community events to deliver critical safety tips to target audiences, including motorists of all ages and professional drivers.

“OLI is grateful to our safety partners at FHWA for making these important grants possible,” said OLI President and CEO Bonnie Murphy. “It is our hope that the grant projects in these states, as part of our U.S. Rail Safety Week efforts, will raise awareness of the need for caution near highway-rail grade crossings and help prevent families and communities from enduring the tragic crossing collisions that are far too frequent throughout the country.”

“We are pleased to support Operation Lifesaver’s highway-rail grade crossing safety education efforts,” said Acting Deputy Administrator Butch Waidelich of the Federal Highway Administration. “These grant projects provide important safety information that align with our ongoing commitment to highway safety.”

Projects funded by the FHWA grants include:

  • California Operation Lifesaver will conduct a grade crossing TV public service announcement (PSA) campaign during August and September in markets that have experienced an increase in crossing incidents. California OL also will incorporate activities throughout the state during September, which is California Rail Safety Month, and partner with Union Pacific and Metrolink police departments on enforcement events and community outreach in Los Angeles County during U.S. Rail Safety Week.
  • Kentucky Operation Lifesaver will conduct a radio PSA campaign featuring OLI’s national “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign materials and messages, partnering with the Kentucky Department of Transportation and the University of Kentucky. The campaign will run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In addition, Kentucky OL will distribute materials at the Kentucky State Fair, August 17-27, and has requested that the state’s Governor declare Sept. 24-30 Rail Safety Week.
  • Michigan Operation Lifesaver will carry out a six-month campaign throughout high-risk areas in central and mid-Michigan using radio, digital display ads and mobile advertising to heighten driver awareness for Operation Lifesaver's safety message, including during U.S. Rail Safety Week.
  • Minnesota Operation Lifesaver will conduct a multi-faceted campaign including movie theatre advertising, social media posts, rotation of the “Can” video PSA on video screens at breathalyzer kiosks in venues, participation in the Minnesota state fair from August 24-September 4, and radio PSAs during a multi-month period including Rail Safety Week. Minnesota will partner with Wisconsin Operation Lifesaver to reach audiences in high-incident areas of these Midwest states.
  • Mississippi Operation Lifesaver will conduct a five-week advertising campaign with “See Tracks? Think Train!” materials targeting residents of the southern and coastal portions of the state with indoor advertising, commercial ice box wrappers and gas station pump tops. The campaign also will reach vacationers at beaches, casinos and other destinations along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, raising awareness of the organization and its safety messages.
  • Nevada Operation Lifesaver will promote awareness of the Emergency Notification System (ENS) signs at railroad crossings to reach English and Spanish-speaking audiences. The campaign includes a six-month promotional effort with the Reno Aces ball club and the Reno 1868 soccer team, as well as special events and giveaways at games during Rail Safety Week. Safety messages shared during broadcasts of the games will reach audiences in additional markets in Nevada and California.  
  • New Jersey Operation Lifesaver will conduct a three-month campaign including Rail Safety Week to display an outdoor ad on crossing safety at a popular Atlantic City outlet mall to remind people to look for and heed warning signs approaching railroad grade crossings. The ad will also be seen by Atlantic City visitors from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New York.
  • North Carolina OL’s campaign includes placing posters and safety materials in the state’s 16 Amtrak stations; targeted, multi-week PSA placements in movie theaters and on gas station video screens, and participating in the 2017 NC state fair in partnership with the NC Department of Transportation’s BeRailSafe program.
  • North Dakota OL’s efforts will concentrate on the western part of the state, and will include radio ads, gas pump ads, and paid social media outreach. The campaign will target professional truck drivers and general drivers.  
  • Ohio Operation Lifesaver plans a campaign that will air radio PSAs from the “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign throughout the state, with heaviest rotation in the high-incident area of northeast Ohio. The campaign will run from July until Rail Safety Week. In addition, media events will be held in suburban Cleveland and other locations highlighting local Rail Safety Week proclamations and other partnerships.
  • Oklahoma Operation Lifesaver plans to leverage crossing safety video PSAs to connect with movie theatre audiences in large rail communities across the state for a two-week period including Rail Safety Week.
  • Oregon Operation Lifesaver will use a combination of cinema and radio PSAs in English and Spanish to focus attention on highway-railroad crossing safety in problem areas in the Willamette Valley and southern Oregon during Rail Safety Week.
  • South Carolina Operation Lifesaver will run a campaign in September with radio PSAs and digital ads to reach audiences in the state’s Upstate and Midlands areas where incidents have increased. Sports-talk radio ads will target mature male drivers and younger male movie-goers will be targeted with digital mobile ads. Press conferences and other events will be held during Rail Safety Week with law enforcement and other partners.
  • Washington Operation Lifesaver will conduct a safety awareness campaign, with a focus on Rail Safety Week, that will include television PSAs on three Spanish-speaking television networks across the state, airing radio PSAs on Seattle and Spokane radio stations, social media boosts, and providing educational materials and giveaways for safety presentations to schools and other groups along a new commuter rail/Amtrak passenger service route.
  • Wisconsin Operation Lifesaver is planning a coordinated outreach campaign from July through September to reach drivers through on-screen PSAs and distribution of key chains and brochures by volunteers. The state also is partnering with Minnesota OL for maximum impact in border regions.

The 15 approved grants were awarded through a competitive process, with selections based on criteria such as successfully leveraging the federal funds with private partnerships, targeted messaging and the frequency of highway-rail collisions.

Beyond these grant projects, U.S. Rail Safety Week will feature awareness events throughout the country, as well as digital and radio ad campaigns targeted to drivers of all ages, with a goal to empower people to keep themselves safe near tracks and trains. For more information visit


Thanks to our @USDOTFHWA partners for facilitating rail safety grants for 15 OL state programs! #USRailSafetyWeek

Congrats to 15 state Operation Lifesaver programs who won crossing safety grants! #USRailSafetyWeek @USDOTFHWA

About Operation Lifesaver - Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. A national network of trained volunteers gives free presentations on rail safety and a public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” provides the public with tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. OLI will lead a national observance of U.S. Rail Safety Week, September 24-30, 2017. Learn more about U.S. Rail Safety Week; follow OLI on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Next article