Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Awards Over $245,000 for Rail Safety Public Awareness Campaigns in 16 States
WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2021 – Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), today announced $200,317 in competitive rail safety awareness grants to Operation Lifesaver programs in 12 states. To supplement the FRA awards, $45,000 in funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh through a previously announced grant will go towards four additional state grant projects, for a total of 16 state grants with $245,317 in combined grant funds.
The FRA-funded grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee. 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 20-26, 2021.
The $45,000 in funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh will support Operation Lifesaver state grant projects in four additional states – Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas – and provide the balance of funding for New Jersey’s grant project.
“Every three hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train. OLI is grateful for our ongoing safety partnership with FRA, which facilitates these targeted, grant-funded safety efforts by state Operation Lifesaver programs to stop track tragedies in our communities,” says OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh. “We also appreciate grant funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh, whose support enables additional states to launch their projects.”
“The FRA is pleased to work with our safety partners at Operation Lifesaver on these grant projects, which will advance our shared goal of deterring and preventing train-vehicle and train-pedestrian incidents,” said James Payne, Staff Director of the FRA Grade Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention Program Division.
“We strongly believe in both the mission and the organization of Operation Lifesaver and in particular its tailoring of programs state by state,” said Posner Foundation Chairman Henry Posner III. “This reflects the diverse reality of the USA’s railroad environments.”
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:
- Alabama Operation Lifesaver will deliver brochures to state parks and campgrounds across the state, with a focus on vacation and tourist areas from May through September, including Rail Safety Week (Sept. 20-26). This project idea was based on recent travel trends research showing that 59% of families will drive to beach, lake and mountain vacation destinations within a 400-mile radius in 2021; many Alabama state park reservations are already booked for the year.
- 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 using video PSAs placed in areas with homeless, freight and passenger rail corridors, commuter rail service, sports arenas, colleges and business districts.
- Operation Lifesaver of the Dakotas will use social media, presentations, events, and partnerships to continue statewide efforts providing public awareness and education on rail safety for both pedestrians and all vehicles with emphasis on photographers, trespassers/homeless, new drivers, commercial drivers, farmers, tourists and ditch mowers. The plan includes concerted efforts in specific highway corridors for a Spring blitz in early June focusing on the western side of both North and South Dakota. Additional messaging will go out in both states through Rail Safety Week. Key audiences for these efforts include photographers; new, commercial, farm and bus drivers; and people experiencing homelessness along with other diverse populations including new drivers via driver education instructors and officer on the train positive enforcement events. New partner venues include all state parks and rest areas; DOT and Game & Fish waiting rooms; gas station pump messaging; and “See Tracks, Think Train” signage at critical pedestrian crossings.
- Georgia will conduct aPSA media campaign from summer to fall 2021, including during Rail Safety Week. The campaign, which is aimed at reducing trespassing around tracks and trains and improving railroad crossing safety, will be carried out in partnership with the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) to reach the entire state with guaranteed PSA placement on more than 50 television stations and 300 radio stations.
- Indiana Operation Lifesaver includes a multifaceted plan using geofencing and social conquesting to deliver railroad crossing safety PSAs to commercial and hazmat truck drivers in high-incident areas as well as to people experiencing homelessness. A trespassing campaign for people experiencing homelessness will be focused in areas with homeless encampments near train tracks, as 72% of the homeless population has a smartphone, and will target shelters and soup kitchens with the new OLI Choose Safety: Respect the Rails materials in addition to handing out OLI first aid kits, water bottles and backpacks in those locations. Safety blitzes with local law enforcement and Indiana State Police will also be included as well as a digital campaign with OLI’s new Low Clearance PSA for truck drivers, which will take place July through September 2021, including extra coverage during Rail Safety Week.
- New Jersey Operation Lifesaver will partner with a local family owned and operated specialty grocer in Northern and Central New Jersey on a project to print re-usable grocery bags with the Operation Lifesaver Logo, a safety message and web site URL. Stores will distribute the bags to their customers at specific locations on designated days. New Jersey Operation Lifesaver will also set up display tables in stores on the days the branded bags will be distributed.
- New York Operation Lifesaver, working with Metro-North Commuter Railroad (MNR), will create a video and rail safety meme contest to share trespass and grade crossing safety messaging in a fun, relatable way. Aimed at under 30-year-olds, the contest leverages the popularity of Metro-Man™, MNR’s safety mascot and will be promoted through websites, social media, online advertisements, earned media and print material.
- North Carolina will partner with a digital cable provider on a geofencing campaign targeting 13 locations identified by the North Carolina Department of Transportation Rail Division as areas of high trespasser activity as well as near breweries, distilleries and adult entertainment located near railroad tracks and crossings. The project, running June 14 - September 30, includes Rail Safety Week and will target males 18-44 years old.
- Oregon Operation Lifesaver will conduct a digital trespass prevention campaign via Over-the-Top (OTT) video on streaming internet devices using OLI’s Near Miss video PSA, delivering the safety message in seven high-incident counties to adults ages 16 to 40, the demographic experiencing the highest percentage of trespass incidents in the state. The campaign will be reinforced with billboards in areas where trespassing incidents have occurred.
- South Carolina’s project will share rail safety education with students, faculty and staff on college campuses, teaching them about the inherent dangers of crossing railroad tracks whether driving, biking or walking. Many of these campuses have railroad tracks and crossings with heavy train traffic. The campaign includes ads on audience-based digital platforms including Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok and includes airing rail safety PSAs at 12 DMV offices across the state during the month of September as well as conducting personal outreach to colleges and universities.
- Tennessee will conduct a digital geofencing social media and video PSA campaign in six high-incident counties across the state from September to November, including Rail Safety Week, targeting people between the ages of 18 and 34 including all family types and education levels.
The Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh grant funds will include these projects:
- Missouri will launch a multifaceted campaign educating the public on the dangers of trespassing and support the enforcement of grade crossing laws. The campaign kicks off during Rail Safety Week and will include radio and video PSA’s statewide, as well as digital ads. As Rail Safety Week overlaps with Missouri Farm Safety Week, Operation Lifesaver will capitalize on this opportunity to share the message with Missouri’s farming community.
- New Jersey Operation Lifesaver willcreate and promote a high-visibility aerial banner PSA during the peak summer period along a 15-mile section of the New Jersey shore that includes 20 public beaches, 61 highway-rail at-grade crossings, two pedestrian-only crossings and nine train stations.
- Ohio Operation Lifesaver will raise public awareness on the dangers of driving or walking around railroad tracks and trains. The project includes a geofencing campaign in 12 zip code areas where Ohio had the most vehicle-train collisions and pedestrian/trespass incidents in 2019 and 2020. The rail safety PSAs will be seen on cell phones as well as streaming devices, including smart TVs, PCs, tablets and gaming consoles.
- Pennsylvania will address trespassing around railroad tracks and trains as well as the issue of photography on train tracks to reach 28 high-incident counties across the state between June and September, including Rail Safety Week. The campaign will include OLI’s animated No Selfie is Worth the Risk and Near Miss PSAs on Snapchat and OTT devices to reach teens and young families.
- Texas Operation Lifesaver’s trespass prevention campaign will target mobile users in six counties with the highest trespass incidents in the state using OLI’s Near Miss PSA targeting people between the ages of 18-34 through June and July of 2021.
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 tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. OLI leads an international observance of Rail Safety Week each September. Learn more about Rail Safety Week; follow OLI on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.