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Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Awards $245.5K for Rail Safety Public Awareness Campaigns in 14 States

By Operation Lifesaver

WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2022 – Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), today announced $200,525 in competitive rail safety awareness grants to Operation Lifesaver programs in 11 states. Additional grant funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh allowed OLI to leverage FRA funds and support rail safety activities in additional states, with a total of 14 states receiving $245,525 in combined grant funds.

The FRA-funded grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in California, Indiana, Louisiana, (partial funding), Mississippi, Missouri,  New JerseyNew York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas. The grants will fund a variety of crossing safety and trespass prevention public education projects, many of which will be conducted in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s observance of Rail Safety Week, September 19-25, 2022.

The $45,000 in funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh will support Operation Lifesaver state grant projects in three additional states – Alabama, Pennsylvania  and Washington – and provide the balance of funding for Louisiana’s grant project.

“This year, OLI again received many outstanding applications for these competitive rail safety awareness grants,” said OLI Executive Director  Rachel Maleh. “The grant funding, made possible by our ongoing safety partnership with FRA, is essential for the ongoing safety efforts by state Operation Lifesaver programs to stop track tragedies. Additional grant funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh allowed us to support worthy projects in additional states.”

“The FRA’s work with Operation Lifesaver on these grant projects supports our mission to enable the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America,” said James Payne, Staff Director of the FRA Grade Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention Program Division.

“We are proud to continue our support of Operation Lifesaver and its state programs: their education of the public on staying safe around railroads is both unique and critical,” said Posner Foundation Chairman Henry Posner III.

The approved grants were awarded through a competitive process, with selection based on criteria such as the defined safety need, the number of highway-rail collisions in the state, and how the proposal leverages federal funds with private partnerships.

Projects funded by the FRA grants include:

  • California Operation Lifesaver will launch a trespass prevention campaign to increase rail safety awareness in 13 high-incident counties across the state, including the month of September, which is Rail Safety Month in California and includes Rail Safety Week. The campaign will include audio public service announcement (PSA) ads on digital radio stations along with a digital geofence and Connected TV (CTV) ad campaign in areas with homeless populations, freight and passenger rail corridors, sports arenas, colleges and business districts. Kids ages 13-18 are an additional target audience.
  • Indiana Operation Lifesaver’s project includes a multifaceted plan using geofencing and social conquesting to deliver railroad PSA campaign targeted to college aged students on five university campuses that have higher rail trespass incident rates as well as campus information blitzes with volunteers and law enforcement officers. The campaign will take place July through September 2022, including extra coverage during Rail Safety Week.
  • Louisiana will conduct a trespass awareness and prevention campaign in August and September through a robust digital advertising schedule at gas pumps located in high traffic areas in three target areas in the state.
  • Mississippi Operation Lifesaver plans a multifaceted campaign from August through September with trespass prevention and crossing safety messaging using display ads, digital advertising on streaming video sites, and geofencing outreach near railroad crossings in high-incident areas as well as targeted social media advertising. The target audience of the campaign will include all genders with a focus on mature motorists.
  • Missouri’s project includes statewide radio and video PSA distribution via MissouriNet and the Brownfield Agriculture Network as well as digital social media advertising with trespass prevention and crossing safety messaging from July through September, with increased frequency during Rail Safety Week, which is also Missouri Farm Safety Week.
  • New Jersey Operation Lifesaver will deliver trespass prevention and crossing safety messaging to audiences throughout the state via an intensive radio PSA campaign on the three top news and sports stations in September including Rail Safety Week.
  • New York Operation Lifesaver,in partnership with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), will educate the public about the dangers of trespassing and the importance of platform safety in August and September. The campaign will include geofencing ads targeting people near LIRR stations along with print and digital advertising at stations; additional station events will generate media coverage reinforcing the messaging.
  • North Carolina has a two-pronged campaign: first, partnering with a digital cable provider for streaming ads targeted to males 18-34 in key media markets from June 13 - September 30, including Rail Safety Week; second, providing messaging in English and Spanish at ride-on municipal park mini-trains in five locations to reach parents and children throughout the state and year-round with rail safety information.
  • Ohio Operation Lifesaver will conduct a radio PSA campaign, "Make Every Rail Crossing a NO Hitter," to include existing OLI PSAs as well as added content voiced by Ohio baseball legend and broadcaster Jensen Lewis, targeting 22 counties in Northeast Ohio. The radio PSAs will run from May through September, including during Rail Safety Week.
  • South Carolina’s project will target entertainment enthusiasts, college students and residents of the rapidly growing city of Columbia from June to September through a campaign to include refreshing a permanent safety billboard on a caboose in the middle of downtown at the Amtrak station, additional billboards around the city, a digital social media campaign and in-person outreach with partners to educate people near the caboose location on trespass prevention and crossing safety. 
  • Texas Operation Lifesaver will target men ages 35-44 with a campaign in 75 bars, restaurants and nightclubs in high incident areas across the state through safety messages on crossing safety and trespass prevention on posters and drink coasters as well as on television screens. The campaign will take place in the month surrounding Rail Safety Week.

The Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh grant will supplement Louisiana’s project and fund these campaigns:

  • Alabama Operation Lifesaver will raise awareness among college students on the dangers of trespassing around railroad tracks and trains through a PSA campaign on streaming audio and video as well as via social media. The campaign will run from April through August.
  • Pennsylvania will address trespassing around railroad tracks and trains to target people aged 18-45 in high-incident areas across the state between June and September, including during Rail Safety Week. The campaign will include OLI’s Near Miss PSAs on Instagram and Over-the-Top (OTT) video devices to reach this key audience.
  • Washington Operation Lifesaver’s campaign will use geofencing, social media, blended video display and OTT advertising targeted to 58 higher-risk crossings and known areas for trespassing incidents. The campaign will take place in July, August and September, including during Rail Safety Week.

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About Operation Lifesaver  

Operation Lifesaver, which this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1972, is a non-profit 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. In 1986 the non-profit Operation Lifesaver, Inc. national office was created to help support the efforts of state Operation Lifesaver programs, saving lives by sharing rail safety messages with audiences across the U.S. and beyond. A national network of trained volunteers gives free presentations on rail safety and a public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” provides tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. Learn more about Rail Safety Week;follow OLI on social media via  Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest  and  YouTube