WASHINGTON, DC, April 20, 2022 – Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), today announced $200,000 in grants to Operation Lifesaver programs in 11 states. The grants will fund a variety of highway-rail grade crossing safety public education projects, many of which will be conducted in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s observance of Rail Safety Week, September 19-25, 2022.
Funded by FHWA, the grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in California, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. These state programs will use the funding to launch public awareness campaigns and host community events that deliver lifesaving rail safety tips to target audiences, including motorists of all ages and professional drivers.
“Operation Lifesaver state programs submitted many creative and outstanding applications for competitive crossing safety public awareness grants this year,” said OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh. “OLI is grateful for our continuing rail safety partnership with FHWA, and for the grant funding that makes these safety projects possible. Together, we can stop track tragedies,” she stated.
“Keeping people safe is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s number one priority,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The Federal Highway Administration is proud to support the work of Operation Lifesaver by providing funding for highway rail crossing safety efforts across the United States. And in the years to come, communities across the country will be able to improve safety where rails and roads meet, thanks to funding provided under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
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 in the state, and how the proposal leverages federal funds with private partnerships.
Projects funded by the FHWA grants include:
- California Operation Lifesaver will launch a campaign in 13 high-incident counties during September, which is California Rail Safety Month and includes Rail Safety Week. The campaign will use geofencing, digital radio and Connected TV (CTV) and encompasses rail safety educational banner ads, animated messages, and video PSAs targeting homeless individuals, commuter rail corridors, business districts, sports arenas, colleges and rail corridors as well as audiences 13 years of age and older.
- Indiana Operation Lifesaver will use OLI’s Shift Worker PSA in a targeted geofencing, geofarming and social conquesting campaign to reach hospital employees, police, first responders, EMTs, manufacturing workers and truck drivers in high-incident counties. Safety blitzes also will be conducted in these areas to distribute brochures and branded insulated coolers to shift workers. The campaign will take place July through September 2022 and include extra coverage during Rail Safety Week.
- Minnesota will educate the state’s professional drivers about avoiding incidents at highway-rail grade crossings by developing a series of rail safety for professional driver videos. The campaign will include making the videos available on the Minnesota Operation Lifesaver website, creating social media clips with the same messaging and conducting a geotargeting social media campaign.
- Missouri will use a multi-platform strategy to educate the public as well as farm audiences using a digital ad campaign from July through December, radio PSAs to air statewide during Rail Safety Week/Missouri Farm Safety Week, and banner ads and PSAs on farm radio network websites.
- New York will work in partnership with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) on a project targeting cell phone-induced distracted driving. The campaign will use geofencing advertising to drivers at selected railroad crossings as well as digital and print advertising and LIRR station messaging from mid-August through September. Events scheduled during Rail Safety Week will generate media coverage of the campaign and reinforce the message to commuters.
- North Carolina’s two-pronged campaign includes outreach to new drivers via distribution of flash drives with pertinent Operation Lifesaver videos and rail safety information to the more than 1300 drivers’ education instructors currently active in NC. The state program also will conduct a television PSA ad campaign, featuring OL’s newest highway safety messages, targeted to males 18-49 in key markets from late June through September.
- Ohio will run a radio public awareness campaign featuring Ohio sports figure and radio announcer Bobby Carpenter from May through September via a state radio news network. The campaign will incorporate existing OLI PSAs emphasizing how drivers can stay safe at railroad crossings.
- Pennsylvania Operation Lifesaver will conduct a digital over-the-top (OTT) video crossing safety PSA campaign with OLI PSAs from June through September, focusing on the counties with the state’s highest crossing collisions.
- South Carolina plans a multi-platform crossing safety education campaign along an extremely active rail corridor from border to border across the state. The intended targets are male drivers over 45 years of age with messaging focused on the dangers of driving around lowered crossing gates. Tactics include outreach to communities, billboards, digital ads, social media and streaming audio/podcasts from August through September. An online quiz will encourage participants to register to win branded insulated coolers confirming receipt of rail safety tips.
- Tennessee will partner with a Department of Motor Vehicle advertising network for a year-long campaign to show OLI rail crossing safety video PSAs in English and Spanish at driver services centers across the state, reaching this captive audience with the rail safety message.
- Texas Operation Lifesaver is partnering with Lonestar College and Union Pacific Railroad to install two faux crossings at the Lonestar College truck driving facility in Spring, Texas. Texas Operation Lifesaver will train instructors at the college to give rail safety presentations to students enrolled in the truck driving program, which trains thousands of truck drivers annually. The project includes wrapping one of the tractor-trailers at Lonestar College with a rail safety message.