Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), announced that $205,525 in grants have been awarded to 16 state Operation Lifesaver programs.
The individual grant awards, ranging from $1,800 to $20,000, will fund a variety of rail crossing safety and trespass prevention public education projects in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s upcoming Rail Safety Week (RSW), which will be observed in the U.S. and Canada from Sept. 23-29, 2019.
Grant projects include:
Alabama Operation Lifesaver will conduct an awareness campaign targeting crossing safety and rail trespass prevention in high-incident areas, including geographically-targeted mobile ads (geo-fencing) and public service announcements (PSAs) during Rail Safety Week. Banners will pop-up as ads on cell phones in the target areas and include links to Alabama OL’s Facebook page, a video PSA, and the oli.org website. Additional ads will highlight activities during Rail Safety Week. The campaign runs from mid-May through September.
California Operation Lifesaver plans a broad effort during September, when the state observes California Rail Safety Month, as well as during Rail Safety Week. A major project is a targeted geofencing trespass prevention digital campaign in in 13 high incident/high-risk counties. In addition, CAOL will do homeless outreach in high-incident locations in Northern and Southern California, distributing First Aid Kits with the “See Tracks, Think Train” logo. CAOL also will participate in statewide events to raise rail safety awareness and promote Rail Safety Month and Rail Safety Week.
Georgia Operation Lifesaver will conduct a television and radio ad campaign throughout the state through a partnership with the Georgia Association of Broadcasters. PSAs will air on more than 50 television stations and 300 radio stations in Georgia, with many ads reaching into neighboring states. Activities also will include a sponsored "Chalk 1 Up 4 Safety" contest for middle school and high school students in Metro Atlanta, and events over the next few months, culminating in Rail Safety Week.
Idaho Operation Lifesaver will conduct a "Towards Zero Deaths" multilevel safety campaign, to include television and radio PSAs in key counties aimed at the 35-54 demographic, safety booths at the Western and Eastern Idaho Fairs, social media activity during Rail Safety Week, and the placement of 24-in. “See Tracks, Think Train” decals on sidewalks in high-population trespassing traffic areas.
Indiana Operation Lifesaver will conduct a campaign to address crossing collisions and trespassing in the state, targeting crossings with multiple collisions and high trespassing areas. The campaign will use geofencing and social media campaigns in July, August and September, including during Rail Safety Week, with enforcement efforts during RSW. Yellow “See Tracks, Think Train” signs at key locations will reinforce the campaign messaging.
Kansas Operation Lifesaver will provide rail safety public awareness and education in Sedgwick county, targeting attendees at events at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita. The Arena is located directly next to the BNSF tracks, and to get to the Arena from the East side of the city attendees must cross tracks while driving or on foot. This campaign will use geofencing ads targeting men ages 18-34 for three months, yielding roughly 800,000 impressions. In addition to geofencing, posters and videos will be displayed in the arena, and fans who are interested in arena events will receive online ads on Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter.
Kentucky Operation Lifesaver will focus their campaign efforts on new drivers, visiting two high schools in each of the six geographic areas of the state to make safety presentations that incorporate OLI videos and literature and distribute "See Tracks, Think Train” keychains to reinforce and remind students, their friends and family to be careful around railroad tracks. Activities also include a radio PSA campaign on Clear Channel radio stations, a presence at the state fair in August, and enforcement efforts during Rail Safety Week.
Michigan Operation Lifesaver’s efforts include radio PSAs on both radio airwaves and online radio streams in Mid-Michigan, along with a mobile ad strategy that targets people who have crossed railroad tracks in the last 30 days, a mobile campaign based on specific zip codes, a Facebook/Instagram awareness campaign and mobile ads on three radio station websites in Mid-Michigan. The campaign takes place from June through September 2018.
Minnesota Operation Lifesaver will run general internet ads to people across the entire state raising general awareness in addition to a geofencing program moving throughout the state and in-person events to reinforce these safety messages. MNOL will be at the Loco Daze event in Dilworth, Minn., with efforts including a youth safety camp, OL booth, “See Tracks, Think Train” mascot, and a joint parade float with OL of the Dakotas. More Minnesotans will be reached with OLI safety messages in Duluth at a “Day Out with Thomas” event in August, a booth at the State Fair, and Rail Safety Week events including outreach to schools in the Minneapolis area.
Mississippi Operation Lifesaver will conduct an interactive trespass prevention and crossing safety campaign targeting areas located near high-incident areas. Geofencing ads and billboards will be used to educate the public about the Emergency Notification Sign, railroad safety, and pedestrian safety, culminating during Rail Safety Week. The campaign is planned to reach over 500,000 during August and September.
Missouri Operation Lifesaver’s campaign will run radio PSAs throughout the state along with a digital campaign featuring video PSAs and banner ads on social media and promoted social posts. The project will start in July and continue with increased frequency during Rail Safety Week, which overlaps with Missouri Farm Safety Month; reaching Missouri’s farming community will be part of the campaign. The ad campaign will be supplemented by events, including Officer on the Train activities, positive enforcement blitzes and volunteer presentations.
Nevada Operation Lifesaver’s project is targeted to professional truck drivers, working with the Nevada and California Highway Patrol to participate in "Safety Days" at truck scales in Truckee, Calif., and at the new scale facility near Las Vegas. During these events, Nevada OL presenters provide a short safety presentation for drivers on how to safely navigate highway-rail grade crossings with additional information on trespass prevention.
New Jersey Operation Lifesaver is celebrating its 40th anniversary of rail safety education in the state by carrying out 40 targeted trespass prevention safety blitzes and information table events beginning in May 2018 and concluding during Rail Safety Week. Partners in this effort are New Jersey Transit and Norfolk Southern police. New Jersey Transit is showing station PSAs at stations and helping to publicize public education events.
North Carolina Operation Lifesaver is undertaking four major projects in 2018: a three-month billboard ad campaign targeting high-incident counties; distributing materials and giveaway items at a shared booth at the NC State Fair in conjunction with other safety partners; a mock highway-rail crossing collision for local and state officials, public safety workers, and media to raise awareness and gather data for use in public safety training by state agencies; and participating at North Carolina A&T and Elon University football games during Rail Safety Week with video and radio messaging and an informational table. Both colleges have experienced trespassing and crossing incidents.
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver will focus its educational efforts on the state’s homeless population, as railroad police estimate that 20 percent of trespassing issues involve the homeless. Targeted areas include Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Spartanburg, Greer, Myrtle Beach and Clemson. South Carolina OL and its partners will engage the homeless in shelters, soup kitchens, libraries and camp locations by offering kits with items including a water bottle, lip balm, hand sanitizer, educational card and beanie; kits for children will include activity books, crayons and flashing buttons.
In South Dakota, Operation Lifesaver’s rail safety campaign will use radio PSAs and social media ads on Facebook to target drivers in areas of the state where 37% of the 2017 highway-rail collisions occurred. The media campaign will take place Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, including during Rail Safety Week. campaign is aimed at males ages 18-35, the demographic most likely to be involved in crossing incidents. The social media posts will aim to educate the target audience, increase page likes, and create overall awareness of rail safety topics.
The approved grants were awarded through a competitive process, with selection based on criteria such as successfully leveraging the federal funds with private partnerships, targeted messaging and the frequency of pedestrian-rail incidents and highway-rail collisions.