Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), announced more than $200,000 in grants to 21 state Operation Lifesaver programs for a variety of rail crossing safety and anti-trespassing public education projects and public service announcements, in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s recently launched “See Tracks? Think Train!” public awareness campaign.
The grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. These state programs will use the funding to spread “See Tracks? Think Train!” safety messages via television, radio, billboards, sporting events and movie theatre advertising; create eye-catching displays for public education at large events; and target students, school bus drivers, Spanish-speaking populations and the news media to raise awareness and about the dangers near tracks and trains.
“The grants will fund a wide variety of projects to expand the reach of our new safety campaign and further Operation Lifesaver’s mission of eliminating collisions, injuries and deaths at crossings and along rail property,” said Joyce Rose, OLI’s president and CEO. “Through our partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, these activities will help us reach critical audiences in many of the top states for these incidents.”
The Federal Railroad Administration, a national partner and advisor of Operation Lifesaver, provides the funding for these grants.
“Our rail safety partnership with Operation Lifesaver is very important to FRA, and we are proud to be a part of the “See Tracks? Think Train!” educational campaign. Safety is our number one priority at FRA,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo.
Examples of the projects funded by the FRA grants include:
- Operation Lifesaver programs in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas will place public service announcements (PSAs) on billboards along highways near major rail corridors. In several states the billboards will supplement radio PSAs, buttressing the rail safety message.
- Movie theater ads will run in Illinois and Oregon in target areas to underscore the safety message with the demographic groups at highest risk, including males 18-35.
- Several states, including Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon and Washington, will include radio PSAs in their campaigns.
- Some projects target specific audiences, such as South Carolina, which will target students and school bus drivers; in the three-state region of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, television and radio ads in Spanish will be aimed at reaching Hispanics and migrant workers.
The 21 approved grants were awarded through a competitive process. Selections were made by a panel of railroad safety experts using criteria such as successfully leveraging the federal funds with private partnerships, targeted messaging and the frequency of pedestrian-train incidents and highway-rail collisions.
Operation Lifesaver plans to announce the results of a similar grant program for rail transit safety education projects in mid-August.