Operation Lifesaver Programs in 10 States to Share $200K in Grants

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), on April 1 announced the award of $200,000 in competitive crossing safety awareness grants to Operation Lifesaver programs in 10 states. This follows the OLI award of $220,000 to programs in 11 states, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh.

The new grants will be given to Operation Lifesaver organizations in California, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, PennsylvaniaSouth Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, and go toward crossing safety public education projects and campaigns that will be used in conjunction with OLI’s observance of See Tracks? Think Train!® Week, to be held Sept. 23-29, 2024. (Rail Safety Week in the U.S. was recently renamed and rebranded as See Tracks? Think Train!® Week or ST3Week for short.)

According to OLI, selection was 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.

“The safety of all road users is of paramount importance to the Federal Highway Administration and we’re proud to support the work of Operation Lifesaver by providing Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for these railway highway crossing safety efforts,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said. “We will continue to work with Operation Lifesaver to improve safety in areas where roads meet railways.”

OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh commented: “Congratulations to the recipients of the FHWA Competitive Grants! This is truly a competitive process showcasing the hard work, commitment, and creativity that OL State Programs engage in daily. These grant funds allow OL State Programs to expand public outreach and educational efforts, further enhancing safety within their communities. We are grateful for our enduring partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, which is advancing rail safety education across the United States.”

Projects funded by the FHWA grants include:

  1. California Operation Lifesaver will run a Geofencing and digital railroad crossing ad campaign during September, CA Rail Safety Month and See Tracks? Think Train!® Week in the state’s 13 highest counties for incidents and near miss incidents at railroad crossings.
  2. Illinois Operation Lifesaver will run ad campaigns to promote grade crossing safety education from September to November using digital Public Service Advertisements (PSAs), signage on locomotives, streaming videos, and digital display ads. The campaign will include in-person training sessions for key audiences as well as community events in the City of Chicago.
  3. Indiana Operation Lifesaver will run a two-month digital campaign to include safety messaging through audio, video, social and Geofencing, as well as materials distribution during See Tracks? Think Train!® Week in the Indianapolis area, positive enforcement events, and Indianapolis Colts home football games. Artificial intelligence will be used to maximize campaign performance and attract social media influencers, expanding reach for the project’s rail safety education message. 
  4. Missouri Operation Lifesaver will run a radio and digital ad campaign targeting drivers and agricultural road users statewide from May through September, with an additional campaign in seven counties that account for 70% of railroad crossing incidents across the state.
  5. New York Operation Lifesaver will conduct an outreach campaign in Western New York with crossing safety messaging that includes bus ads, a Geofencing digital ad campaign, and a crossing safety event during See Tracks? Think Train!® Week. The bus and digital ads will run from August through September.
  6. Ohio Operation Lifesaver will run a PSA campaign featuring radio personality Bill Cunningham to air on Cincinnati’s top radio station during Cincinnati Reds baseball pregame radio shows from July through September, also reaching listeners in neighboring states.
  7. Operation Lifesaver of Pennsylvania will target the top 11 counties in the state for crossing incidents with a digital Over-the-Top (OTT) crossing safety campaign, as well as interactive internet display ads from June through See Tracks? Think Train!® Week.
  8. South Carolina Operation Lifesaver will target the City of Columbia and the greater Richland County area by sharing railroad safety messaging with college students and other motorists through ads on pizza boxes, as well as partnering with local bars to educate the community through giveaways in the months of August and September.
  9. Tennessee Operation Lifesaver will run a rail safety education ad campaign targeting males aged 18-40 with audio, video, social media, and Geofencing ads in major metro areas during September and October.
  10. Texas Operation Lifesaver run a project in September, targeting visitors planning to attend the State Fair. The project will include a campaign using display ads on websites, Geofencing and connected TV. During See Tracks? Think Train!® Week, ads will appear in Dallas Area Rapid Transit stations, on trains, and via digital billboards across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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