Operation Lifesaver organizations in Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin will use the grants to establish programs and broadcast public safety messages on television, radio and in movie theatres; erect billboards on distracted driving; target outdoor sportsman and Spanish-language speakers and create new rail safety products and presentations.
"Our OLI state coordinators proposed some very exciting initiatives to help 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. "These projects will go a long way toward increasing the number of eyes and ears that receive our message. When you see one, tweet us at @olinational. We want to hear from you."
The FRA, a national partner and advisor of Operation Lifesaver, provides the funding for these grants.
"Safety is our highest priority," said Joseph Szabo, federal railroad administrator. "While the number of grade-crossing incidents during the past decade decreased by nearly 34 percent nationally, fatalities at highway-rail crossings and from trespassing incidents continue to constitute 95 percent of all rail-related deaths. The FRA is committed to working with our partner Operation Lifesaver to continuously improve safety at highway-rail grade crossings."
Some projects target younger audiences, such as in Maine, which will provide middle school students with rail safety puzzles. Others, such as in Oregon, will ensure that the large Latino community hears the rail safety message on Willamette Valley's Spanish-language radio station.
The 17 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 ability of the program to quickly roll out an initiative over the summer.
Operation Lifesaver plans to announce the results of a similar grant program for rail transit safety education projects in early August.