Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) is the national rail safety education organization whose mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property.
The national focus in transit safety has increased, particularly in the wake of several high-profile train collisions on rail transit systems over the last decade. But, it is important to remember that 71% of transit-related fatalities in 2012 were pedestrians, trespassers or occupants of cars that collided with transit vehicles. The greatest area of risk in transit safety is people driving, walking or bicycling in an unsafe manner around crossings and tracks, or acting carelessly on station platforms.
Since 2007, OLI has partnered with state Operation Lifesaver programs and transit agencies to develop public awareness and outreach campaigns to improve safety around rail transit systems. Last month, OLI announced the 2014 competitive transit safety education grant awards to 11 transit agencies totaling $162,500, for public outreach and education campaigns utilizing the Operation Lifesaver national safety campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” (ST3). The ST3 campaign is aimed at young people aged 18 to 35, especially young men, and has a variety of bilingual campaign materials, including video and radio PSAs, billboards, train and bus posters and wraps, and public awareness merchandise. The campaign has a dedicated microsite, www.SeeTracksThinkTrain.org, where materials can be shared and downloaded.
The 11 transit systems that were awarded grant funding this year are:
• Sacramento RTD
• the City of Atlanta
• Rio Metro RTD in Albuquerque
• Illinois Operation Lifesaver for Metra
• Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)
• New Jersey Transit
• Bi-State Development Agency, St. Louis
• Fort Worth Transportation Authority/The T
• Ohio Operation Lifesaver for Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
• Utah Transit Authority
• Valley Metro, Phoenix
The winning projects for this year proposed creative ways to implement transit safety education. A few examples include the City of Atlanta, which will be educating students at Georgia State University about safety around the new Atlanta Streetcar; Dallas’ DART, which aims to increase rail safety awareness among the homeless population near its rights-of-way; and Cleveland’s GCRTA, which will focus on educating drivers who act unsafely at grade crossings along their 13.5-mile light rail system.
In addition to this year’s competitive transit safety education grants, OLI kick-started the ST3 campaign by disbursing $70,000 in regional grants to use the “See Tracks? Think Train!” materials in transit systems around the country. Thus, in Boston, Green Line trains have been wrapped with the ST3 message; the Virginia Railway Express runs the ST3 video PSAs at its platform monitors; Metra commuters in Illinois carry their monthly passes in ticket cases with the ST3 logo imprint; and Fresno Area Express buses carry side-panel ads with the ST3 message. These are just a few of the transit safety outreach efforts featuring the campaign.
Funding for the OLI transit safety education grants is provided by the Federal Transit Administration. OLI is grateful for FTA’s support and looks forward to increasing our partnership with transit systems through the transit safety education grant program.
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Read our previous blog, "Emergency Plans: How Transit Prepares for the Worst"