Tag Archives: Operation Lifesaver

International Level Crossing Awareness Day 2016

10 Jun

LXinfoImage569-ilcad=englishThe 8th International Level Crossing Awareness Day has today June 10th, 2016 attracted extensive media coverage from around the world. This demonstrates the reach of the annual event with 40 nations across all five continents participating. For the first time the launch event has been spread across two countries over two days leading nicely into next Global Level Crossing Symposium in Helsinki.

Today in Riga, Latvia, there has been a conference with international participation built around the ILAD 2016 focus on those who through age or disability have longer reaction times when determining whether or not it is safe to cross. The second component is a technical visit hosted by Estonia’s ever innovative Operation Lifesaver programme.

Chief Executive of the International Union of Railways Jean-Pierre Loubinoux: “As in previous years, we are proud to bring together about 40 countries to participate in this global event, either by relaying it on their websites or on social media, or by organising a range of activities around 10-11 June.

The partners in ILCAD will be focusing in particular on safety at level crossings, but some will also make the most of the opportunity to raise public awareness of other dangers such as crossing railway lines where it is strictly forbidden to do so, or safety on station platforms. We wish our partners all the best for their campaign.”

Each year, the ILCAD partners choose a different section of the public for their awareness campaign. Since we have been experiencing in a certain number of countries an increasing number of collisions at level crossings involving seniors, we have decided this year to focus on “Senior citizens and people with sensory and mobility restrictions”.

As for all other categories of road users, pedestrians and cyclists, collisions may involve seniors who may take wrong decisions either by error or deliberately. For this particular category of persons, misbehaviour can be linked to habit, ageing (failing sight, hearing loss, longer reaction and decision times), and to the overestimation of their ability to take safe decisions which can as both pedestrians and motorists put them and others at risk of harm, all too often fatally.

To view the new public safety announcement addressing the over estimate of personal capability please visit: http://www.ilcad.org.

To put ILCAD in context there are around 600 000 level crossings worldwide (213 000 in the USA, 113 000 in Europe). In Europe, while fatalities at level crossings amount to just 1% of road fatalities but over 25% of railway related fatalities (in 2012 more than 320 of which 38% were aged 65 and over).

Denver, CO: UP reports on improved crossing safety

4 Apr

Union Pacific Railroad’s Denver Service Unit, which includes about 1,700 miles of track across Colorado and parts of Wyoming, Utah and Kansas, improved community and employee safety in 2015. The service unit reported 36 percent fewer railroad crossing incidents in 2015 versus 2014, reflecting progress educating the driving public about rail safety. Additionally, the service unit’s reportable employee injury rate improved 27 percent from 1.82 in 2014 to 1.32 in 2015, demonstrating progress toward achieving zero employee injuries.

A railroad’s reportable injury rate is the total number of injuries reported to the Federal Railroad Administration per 200,000 employee hours, which is equivalent to 100 employees working a full year.

“Employees are committed to safety as our No. 1 priority,” said Ron Tindall, Denver Service Unit superintendent. “They are dedicated to working safely, keeping their peers safe and educating their communities how to behave safely around railroad tracks.”

The Denver Service Unit is focused on employee engagement and several related initiatives as the foundation of its safety success:

  • Total Safety Culture (TSC), an employee-owned, voluntary process that includes training, observations and feedback. In TSC, employees compliment each other on safe behaviors, while intervening in a positive way to address at-risk behaviors.
  • Courage to Care, a personal pledge to safety that represents personal accountability and strengthens the degree to which each and every employee prioritizes safety as an issue. Many Denver Service Unit employees have embraced this pledge ‘go home safe’ for the sake of themselves and their families.

Union Pacific’s Denver Service Unit employees also committed to educating the public about railroad safety. The Service Unit utilized employee-led quarterly awareness campaigns, coordinated community outreach with Operation Lifesaver, and utilized data to direct their outreach activities to appropriate grade crossing locations.

Additionally, Union Pacific launched an online railroad safety campaign on social media in October 2015. The campaign’s key message is “Your Life is Worth the Wait,” urging drivers and pedestrians to think about their personal safety first and wait at grade crossings. A series of videos depict scenarios in which a jogger, young couple and father and son are stopped, waiting for a train to pass. When the arms lift, each proceeds safely toward a spectacular future.

Union Pacific employees set a systemwide all-time reportable personal injury rate record in 2015, improving 11 percent from 2014 to 0.87, making Union Pacific the safest Class 1 railroad in the United States, according to data reported by the FRA. Union Pacific’s railroad system includes more than 40,000 employees operating in 23 states and 7,300 communities.

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Vermont: Operation Lifesaver leadership changes

10 Feb

Operation Lifesaver has announced that Nancee Barney, a longtime railroad safety advocate who has led the Vermont Operation Lifesaver program for 12 years, is retiring from the position. OL President and CEO Bonnie Murphy announced. State of Vermont Grant Programs Manager Alan C. Franklin will succeed Barney as state coordinator.

LXinfoImage782-OLrailsafetyeducationlogoBarney began her career with Operation Lifesaver as a volunteer in 1990, became co-state coordinator in 2003 and was named Vermont state coordinator/executive director in 2004. In addition to expanding the state’s programme and improving relationships with law enforcement, Barney has served since 2007 as the state coordinator region 1 representative to the OL National Advisory Council.

A certified Grade Crossing Collision Investigation (GCCI) course instructor since 2003, Barney conducted numerous GCCI classes from 2003-2010 and will continue to be involved with the GCCI program and as an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer and Coach. A leader among the state Operation Lifesaver programmes in her region, she managed Operation Lifesaver regional workshops in Burlington, Vermont in 2007 and Mystic, Connecticut in 2013.

“Nancee Barney has long been a champion of rail safety with Operation Lifesaver at the state, regional and national level,” said Murphy. “During her tenure as state coordinator, she reached thousands of Vermonters with lifesaving information for citizens, law enforcement, and emergency responders. We are extremely grateful for her leadership and dedication to improving rail safety.”

Franklin, in addition to his new duties as Vermont Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator, works with the Vermont Agency of Transportation on general rail safety issues and with Amtrak on routes and services for the state. He served as State’s Attorney for Orleans County from 2011 to 2015 and before that was a Deputy State’s Attorney.

“We are pleased to have Alan Franklin as the new Vermont state coordinator,” Murphy said. “We look forward to working with him to ensure the Vermont program’s continued success with rail safety education, outreach and public awareness.”

Franklin can be reached at 802-793-2939 or alan.franklin@vermont.gov. For more information on Vermont Operation Lifesaver, visit http://rail.vermont.gov/about_us/operation_lifesaver.

Washington, DC: Operation Lifesaver grants to transit agencies

8 Dec

Operation Lifesaver has announced the award of USD148,500 in grant funds to eight rail transit agencies in seven states for public awareness and safety education projects. The local rail transit agencies and Operation Lifesaver programmes will work together to produce educational projects utilizing the nonprofit organisation’s “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign, which was developed in partnership with the Association of American Railroads and the United States Department of Transportation. The ongoing campaign’s message is that whether driving or walking, when people see tracks, they should use caution and be alert for approaching trains, light rail vehicles or streetcars. The grant campaigns will increase public awareness of rail transit surroundings and help people pay attention in potentially dangerous situations.

“We are thrilled to award these rail transit safety education grants to these eight agencies,” said Operation Lifesaver Vice President Wende Corcoran. “We appreciate the help of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in publicizing the rail transit safety grant program. Operation Lifesaver is very grateful to our safety partners at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for providing the funding.”

“FTA strongly supports more innovative rail transit safety awareness outreach efforts to educate the communities where these systems operate,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan.  “Whether as a passenger or walking, riding or driving near the tracks, safety must be everyone’s top priority.”

The winning agencies selected to receive a share of the funding include:

The winning rail transit agencies will use their funds to produce the following safety public awareness and education campaigns:
  • Metrolink will run a bilingual, targeted, and coordinated campaign with a series of print, digital, social media, and radio public service announcements aimed at raising public awareness and improving pedestrian behavior around rail property. Ads will include bilingual bus ads, billboards, Pandora music web ads, and mobile social media ads, as well as radio spots and sponsorships.
  • SMART will conduct a “Be Track SMART” in-theatre Rail Safety Ad Campaign to place rail safety ads in area movie theatres from October 2015 through February 2016 to deliver rail safety messaging during holiday season blockbuster movie showings.
  • The MARTA system’s Rail Safety Passenger Education (RSPE) initiative is an effort to educate MARTA riders on how to safely access the platforms and board the trains using a creative video and complementary material.
  • Metro Transit will refresh public outreach messaging for motorists and pedestrians, including billboards, bus ads and bus wraps, platform kiosks and clings, and vehicle interior cards.
  • The KC Streetcar service, opening in early 2016, plans a campaign to communicate the safety message “Respect the Rail:  Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Ready,” around streetcars. The campaign will leverage a partnership with local nonprofit BikeWalkKC in a coordinated effort to disseminate safety messaging for pedestrians, bicyclists and those with disabilities.
  • TriMet plans a safety outreach marketing campaign surrounding Portland’s MAX Orange Line, targeting people living or traveling in an area with quiet zones that have seen risky cyclist behavior around a light- and heavy-rail shared corridor. The campaign will run during a three-month period including National Bike Month and will feature TV, digital, radio ads and social media.
  • Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority will launch a campaign to increase rail safety awareness in the Houston Metro area among motorists and pedestrians through distribution of approved OLI materials, the use of “backpack” billboards that are worn by campaign representatives to draw attention, and social media.
  • Hampton Roads’ light rail transit system, known as the Tide, will initiate an awareness campaign to educate and promote safety in the downtown Norfolk corridor within the city’s Central Business District (CBD). “See Tracks? Think Train!” promotional items will be used as safety reminders to pedestrians in the CBD. Desensitized behaviors create the need for light rail safety campaigns to continually remind the public to adhere to safety guidelines when around the Tide.

The grants range between USD13,500 and USD20,000 and require each agency to provide a 25% match. The educational campaigns must use Operation Lifesaver approved materials and logos and be coordinated through a state Operation Lifesaver programme. A team of transit safety and education professionals evaluated the applications based on criteria such as key safety messages and target audiences, evaluation methods, and timelines. Safety campaigns will launch by spring 2016, Corcoran noted.

Los Angeles, CA: County-wide safety improvement programme

28 Sep

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors on September 24th, 2015, approved the contract for the Los Angeles County Grade Crossing and Corridor Safety Program, authorizing engineering studies to identify potential safety improvements at approximately 153 pedestrian and vehicular at-grade crossings along 160 miles of Metro-owned right-of-way in Los Angeles County.

The program is part of a three-year, USD3.87 million contract that was awarded to the engineering firm AECOM. The programme will establish a comprehensive strategy for level crossing safety on Metro-owned rights-of-way currently operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) for the Metrolink commuter rail service. It will identify opportunities to address trespassing and other issues that would enhance safety, including locations where level crossings could be grade-seperated.

“Safety will always be Metro’s number one priority,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington. “Our responsibility as the region’s largest transportation agency is to develop programs like this one to identify areas where we can implement additional safety enhancements along our rail corridors and potentially save lives.”

The overall programme will also include an analysis of methods to prevent unauthorized access to the railway right-of-way through enforcement, fencing, and the application of advanced technology. In addition, state and federal grant opportunities will be explored as a means of funding these enhancements.

The Grade Crossing and Corridor Safety Program will supplement SCRRA’s Sealed Corridor Program. Implemented in 2006, the program has enabled SCRRA to upgrade several crossings with state-of-the-art equipment, including in some cases, enhanced pedestrian treatments, four-quadrant gates, and advanced preemption.

The approval of the programme coincides with California Rail Safety Month, a month-long public education campaign occuring every September headed by the non-profit public safety organization California Operation Lifesaver. The goal of the organization is to reduce the number of tragic incidents at highway-rail grade crossing intersections and trespassing on railroad tracks. More information can be found at www.caol.us.

USA: Operation Lifesaver announces grants to state programmes

12 Aug

LXinfoImage782-OLrailsafetyeducationlogoOperation Lifesaver in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) , announced more than USD 200,000 in grants to 13 State Operation Lifesaver programmes for a variety of level crossing safety public education projects, in conjunction with the nonprofit safety group’s ongoing “See Tracks? Think Train!” public awareness campaign.

The grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organizations in California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. These state programs will use the funding to spread “See Tracks? Think Train!” safety messages via television, radio, billboards, sporting events and movie theatre advertising;  create eye-catching displays for public education at large events; and target students, school bus drivers, Spanish-speaking populations and the news media to raise awareness about the dangers near tracks and trains.

“The grants will fund a wide variety of projects to expand the reach of our ongoing safety campaign and further Operation Lifesaver’s mission of eliminating collisions, injuries and deaths at crossings and along rail property,” said Joyce Rose, operation Lifesaver’s President and CEO. “Through our partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, these grade crossing safety education activities will help us reach critical audiences in many of the states where these incidents are most prevalent.”

The Federal Highway Administration, a national partner and advisor of Operation Lifesaver, provides the funding for this new grant programme, which complements similar grant programmes with the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration.

LXinfoImage1235-See tracks think train“Our rail safety partnership with Operation Lifesaver is very important to FHWA, and we are proud to be a part of the “See Tracks? Think Train!” educational campaign. Safety is our number one priority at FHWA,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau.

Projects funded by the FHWA grants include:

  • California Operation Lifesaver will initiate a campaign with billboard and bus advertisements featuring the “See Tracks? Think Train!” safety message in key locations in Fresno, Kings, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties during September, which has been designated Rail Safety Month across the state.
  • Operation Lifesaver Georgia will air the “See Tracks? Think Train!” radio and television public service announcements (PSAs) throughout the state.
  • Illinois will work with Metra Commuter Rail to place “See Tracks? Think Train!” banners on the outside of commuter rail cars and on electronic signs in the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago.
  • Indiana will target communities along the Jeffersonville to Indianapolis rail corridor with outreach to schools, truck driver and driver education organisations, “See Tracks? Think Train!” radio PSAs on iHeart Radio stations, signage at crossings, and law enforcement safety blitzes.
  • Michigan’s project involves creating and distributing a booklet detailing crossing safety laws, including the “See Tracks? Think Train!” graphics and message, to law enforcement agencies, judges and prosecutors across the state.
  • Minnesota plans a multi-faceted approach that will incorporate “See Tracks? Think Train!” PSAs and messages at the Minnesota Transportation Museum in St. Paul, the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth, the Minnesota State Fair, and at an event with the Minnesota Towards Zero Deaths Coalition, among other venues.
  • Ohio will conduct targeted “See Tracks? Think Train!” billboard, online and radio advertising in communities along rail corridors experiencing increased freight rail traffic.
  • Oregon will reach professional truck drivers by distributing safety brochures and visor cards through the state’s Department of Transportation; in addition, they will air radio and television PSAs on Spanish language stations across the state.
  • South Carolina will target schools throughout the state in close proximity to train tracks with a plan to distribute “See Tracks? Think Train!” materials and PSAs to students and school activity bus drivers.
  • Texas will conduct a 60-day digital truck stop ad campaign at truck stops targeting CDL drivers of tractor-trailers and large trucks along Texas freight corridors in the South and Southeast.
  • Utah will purchase “See Tracks? Think Train!” TV and movie theater ads to combat dangerous driver behaviour at level crossings, and distribute posters to school districts and trucking companies.
  • Wisconsin conducted a statewide Rail Safety Week effort using the “See Tracks? Think Train!” radio and billboard ads that included safety blitzes, social media and other events.

The 13 approved grants were awarded through a competitive process. Selections were made by a panel of safety experts using criteria including successfully leveraging the federal funds with private partnerships, targeted messaging and frequency of highway-rail collisions.

Operation Lifesaver plans to announce the results of a similar grant program for rail transit safety education projects in the autumn
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NC, SC, OH: Norfolk Souther’s safety train tour continues

3 Aug

1438198639599Last week, Norfolk Southern took its Whistle-Stop Safety Train to the Carolinas to remind motorists and pedestrians to be safe and alert when around railroad tracks and trains. The train, operated by Norfolk Southern in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver stopped in eight cities on a three-day, 390-mile trip from Charleston, SC to Asheville, NC. This week, a 354-mile trip will across Ohio will start in Cincinnati and stop in Dayton, Columbus, Bellevue, Cleveland, and Alliance

“Pedestrians and drivers often do not realise how dangerous it is to walk on or near railroad tracks, or that it can take a mile or more for a train to come to a complete stop,” said Cayela Wimberly, Norfolk Southern director of grade crossing safety. “Our goal is to share information that will stop people from risking their lives by trying to beat a train to the crossing or using railroad tracks as a shortcut.”

Across the United States. last year, 267 people died in highway-rail grade crossing incidents, an increase of 16 percent compared with 2013, and deaths due to trespassing on train tracks jumped 22 percent to 526, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics.

“The use of cell phones, texting, and listening to music while driving has contributed to people being distracted from the roadway and the warning signs alerting them to railroad tracks,” said Janice Cowen, Operation Lifesaver South Carolina state coordinator. “People do not realize that it is criminal trespassing to walk on or near railroad tracks. Not only is it against the law, you could lose your life.”

The safety train includes two restored Pullman passenger rail cars with television monitors showing a live video feed from a camera mounted on the lead locomotive. Passengers see firsthand what engineers see every day from the locomotive cab. The train also includes the Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car, which showcases the benefits of rail freight transportation.

Invited guests include county and municipal elected leaders, state and local transportation officials, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, school transportation directors, trucking officials, news media, and others who have a vested interest in public safety.

State and local law enforcement agencies are on hand to enforce correct behaviour at level crossings along the route of the safety train.

Aboard the safety train, riders are hearing first-hand about the dangers of trespassing on the railway from Mark Kalina Jr., who survived a 2012 pedestrian-train incident in Ohio and is now a double amputee.

“Two years and nine months ago, I made the biggest mistake of my life. To save five minutes, I took a shortcut on the railroad tracks. Now I travel the country warning others never to make the same mistake,” said Kalina, who is the spokesperson for the Operation Lifesaver “See Tracks? Think Train!” safety campaign.