Getting there - Is it Worth Your Life? Operation Lifesaver Launches New Safety Campaign in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL, January 4, 2011 – The shock in the eyes of the bride mirrors the outcome in Where’s the Best Man, one of two new safety public service announcements (PSAs) that Operation Lifesaver ( launches here today at Amtrak’s Union Station. The television safety campaign targeting 18-34 year olds and Hispanic viewers is aimed at preventing vehicle-train tragedies in the Chicago area, where crossing incidents increased in 2010. Illinois Commerce Commission ( officials assisted in the kickoff event featuring the PSAs. The Federal Railroad Administration ( provided Operation Lifesaver’s grant for the campaign.

View the PSA online here:; see this release online at

“Operation Lifesaver selected Chicago to launch this public service campaign because of its status as an important railroad hub,” said Illinois Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator Chip Pew.  “With the growth of freight and commuter rail and the advent of high-speed rail, Operation Lifesaver’s safety message is more important than ever,” he said.

Joe Szabo, Federal Railroad Administrator, said “Once again, Operation Lifesaver is leading the charge to raise awareness about highway-rail safety.  These new PSAs serve as an excellent reminder to drivers about the need to be vigilant at grade crossings.”

ICC participants at the news conference included Acting Chairman Manuel Flores and Commissioner Erin O’Connell-Diaz.

Where’s the Best Man? tells the story of a missing best man racing to his friend’s wedding. A hasty decision to ‘save time’ at the crossing brings consequences, raising the question: “Getting there.  Is it worth your life?” The second PSA, Conductor Distraido (Distracted Driver), reaches out to 26 percent of the Chicago media market who watch Spanish-language TV.  It features two guys concentrating on a new truck’s electronic gadgets instead of the highway-rail grade crossing ahead, with the message:  “Stay Focused, Stay Alive at rail crossings.”

The spots will be shown on Chicago area television stations and their websites in cooperation with the Illinois Broadcasters Association.

“These new safety PSAs remind drivers that their lives are worth the wait at rail crossings,” said Helen M. Sramek, president, Operation Lifesaver, Inc.  According to Sramek, the organization’s safety outreach has aided in an 80 percent drop in vehicle-train collisions over the past four decades. She noted that the PSAs will be distributed nationwide as funds become available.

 About Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver is a national, non-profit safety education group whose goal is to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights of way. It has programs in all 50 states with trained and certified presenters who provide free safety talks to raise awareness around tracks and trains.

Chicago/Cook County Statistics

Illinois is the nation’s hub for 57 operating railroad companies, including all seven Class I railroads. They transport more than 500 million tons (1 trillion pounds) of freight annually over 7,262 route miles with 7,968 public highway-rail grade crossings, ranking second nationally.  Cook County accounts for approximately 41 percent of the state’s population and nearly 30 percent of all crashes in the state between 2004 and 2009.


Media Contact

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. understands the importance of the news media’s role in helping the public make safe decisions around tracks and trains.

To request further information about Operation Lifesaver’s activities, or for additional safety information, email general[at] or contact our national headquarters office at 703-739-0308.

If you are a reporter seeking information for a local news story, view our list of state Operation Lifesaver program contacts.

If you are on deadline for a story and would like Operation Lifesaver, Inc.'s perspective on a highway-rail safety or trespass prevention topic, email news[at]

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 trespassing on or near railroad tracks. Our team consists of nationwide network of volunteers who work to educate people about rail safety, state coordinators who lead the efforts in states across the U.S. and a national office in Washington, D.C., that supports state programs, develops education materials, and creates public awareness campaigns for audiences of all ages. 


National Office

Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
425 Third Street SW, Suite 915
Washington, D.C. 20024

Fax: 703-519-8267
Email : [email protected]

Media Inquiries: [email protected]

Transit Inquiries: [email protected]

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