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Operation Lifesaver, Inc. testifies on community-based rail safety results before U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee

By Operation Lifesaver

View and download the testimony

House T&I Committee link with full video and all witness testimony

WASHINGTON, DC, February 5, 2020 – Rachel Maleh, Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), today testified on the organization’s role in improving safety at grade crossings and along railroad rights of way, addressing a hearing of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

Operation Lifesaver’s mission is to save lives by empowering the public to make safer choices near tracks and trains, Maleh testified, noting that the organization’s rail safety partners include federal, state and local government agencies, highway safety organizations, America’s railroads and railway suppliers.

The heart of Operation Lifesaver is its grassroots network of state program directors and volunteers in 45 states and the District of Columbia, Maleh noted, stating that the volunteers are out in their communities every day.  

“While we’ve made great strides in reducing crossing collisions – which have fallen by 82 percent since 1972 – it’s still a startling fact that about every three hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train. It’s evident that our rail safety education mission is still important today,” stated Maleh.

Last year, Operation Lifesaver, Inc. used Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant funding to award competitive rail transit safety grants to ten agencies in eight states. In addition, OLI used Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funding to award competitive rail safety grants to 13 Operation Lifesaver state programs, including states that rank among the top 15 for grade crossing and trespass incidents.

“In this way, OLI’s efforts act as a force multiplier, leveraging federal funds for greater impact. This federal funding truly is making a difference in communities across the nation,” Maleh testified. 

Maleh noted several reasons why Operation Lifesaver’s contributions and public awareness campaigns are important, including:

  • Since 2017, the organization awarded a total of 29 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Competitive State Grant funds of more than $406,000, with a return of more than $1.4 million to states and communities.
  • Each year, since its inception in 2017, OLI’s Rail Safety Week efforts across the U.S. have consistently seen increased news coverage and social media engagement, further increasing rail safety messaging across the country.
  • The 2018 OLI annual report highlights that 1.6 million people were reached directly across the U.S. in over 20,000 Operation Lifesaver presentations, training classes and events.
  • The 2019 “Find the Blue and White” Emergency Notification System Sign Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign shows drivers what to do if they get stuck on the tracks. This PSA is being distributed nationally through a digital and broadcast ad campaign targeting 35 top broadcast markets.

Each time a potentially catastrophic incident at a crossing is prevented, lives are saved, injuries are avoided, and communities are safer – this is Operation lifesaver’s impact. If Operation Lifesaver were fortunate enough to receive additional funds from federal sources, we could expand the successful federal state grants and develop additional campaigns and resources for our state programs,” Maleh concluded.

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, Pinterest and YouTube.

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