Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh, is awarding $230,925 in competitive rail safety awareness grants to rail safety programs in 12 states. The FRA provided $200,000 of the total funding.
The FRA-funded grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in California, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. Funding from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh will support an OLI grant project in Minnesota. The grants will fund a variety of crossing safety and trespass prevention public education projects, which also will be conducted in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s observance of Rail Safety Week, Sept. 18-24, 2023.
“Safety is the Federal Railroad Administration’s highest priority,” said James Payne, staff director of the FRA Grade Crossing and Trespasser Outreach Division. “The FRA’s work with Operation Lifesaver on these grant projects underscores our mission to enable the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future.”
“The Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh is proud to support the work of OLI because we believe that sharing the rail safety message in communities across the country is more important than ever in today’s distracted, busy world. We invite others to join us in partnering with Operation Lifesaver,” said Posner Foundation Executive Director Anne Marie Toccket.
“We received many outstanding grant applications this year. Congratulations to the winning states for their creative approaches to sharing the rail safety education message. OLI is immensely grateful for our vital, ongoing partnerships with the Federal Railroad Administration and the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh, which help fund these outreach projects across the U.S. Together, we’re making communities safer,” said OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh.
Projects funded by the FRA grants include:
- California OLI will run trespass awareness ads using geofencing, connected TV and digital radio formats to educate the public about rail safety, with a goal to stop dangerous behavior near railroad tracks and trains. The campaign will focus on locations that have experienced previous incidents and near miss events across the state.
- Indiana OLI will partner with the South Shore Line on an intensive transit safety outreach campaign, including digital advertising to educate drivers and pedestrians in northwest Indiana as commuter rail partner service is expanded in the state.
- Missouri OLI will raise awareness through a concentrated educational campaign targeting eight counties that account for 46 percent of incidents in the state, as well as broadcast, online and in-person messaging and events.
- New Jersey OLI will conduct a campaign to share the rail safety message across the state and beyond through billboards and signage on local delivery trucks, as well as "See Tracks? Think Train" decals on approximately 500 intermodal railcars.
- New York OLI will launch a project to bring rail safety presentations to elementary schools, health classes, driver education classes and school bus drivers through a social media campaign targeting education decision makers, a direct mail campaign featuring video greeting cards, as well as a billboard campaign during Rail Safety Week.
- North Carolina OLI will undertake a two-pronged project: Acquiring a trailer to serve as a rolling educational exhibit of rail safety information at festivals, safety fairs, conventions, concerts and other locations and conducting a rail safety awareness campaign at an Historically black colleges and universities university with railroad tracks running through or proximate to campus.
- North Dakota OLI will use the funds for a multifaceted approach, including social media campaigns, targeted outreach to photographers, Native Americans, new citizens, as well as drivers of commercial trucks, buses and farm vehicles, and continued safety events partnering with law enforcement and others.
- Ohio OLI will run a public service announcement (PSA) campaign to air on Cincinnati’s top radio station during Cincinnati Reds baseball pregame radio shows from July through September, as well as on the station’s top-rated morning shows, also reaching listeners in neighboring states.
- Pennsylvania OLI will conduct a PSA campaign on digital social media and connected devices targeted to 14 counties in the state, reaching people at risk of rail trespassing.
- South Carolina OLI’s project will share railroad safety messaging with transit riders, bus drivers and vehicles in Greenville County and throughout the Upstate region through ads on buses and bus shelters, along with social media outreach.
- South Dakota OLI will undertake a broad-based project, including social media campaigns, targeted outreach to photographers and new drivers, as well as drivers of commercial trucks, buses and farm vehicles, and continued safety events partnering with law enforcement and others.
The Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh grant will supplement the New York and North Carolina projects, as well as funding an additional state campaign.
Minnesota OLI will promote and expand the state's professional driver education video series to include safety information for drivers of delivery trucks and personal vehicles, familiarizing them with the ENS sign, as well as stressing the importance of avoiding trespassing both on and off-duty.
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 and trespass incidents in the state and how the proposal leverages federal funds with private partnerships.