Posts Tagged ‘grade crossing safety campaigns’

OLI Chapters Awarded Grant Funds

May 27, 2021

Operation Lifesaver in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration and the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh has awarded grants to chapters in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio for grade crossing safety and trespassing prevention projects.

The grants in partnership with the FRA totaled $200,317 and were made to Operation Lifesaver programs in 12 states while the Posner Foundation grants totaled $245,317 in combined grant funds.

The FRA-funded grants will be awarded to OLI chapters in Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.

Most of the Posner Foundation grant money is being awarded in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and New Jersey.

All of the grants were awarded through a competitive process.

2 Federal Agencies Launch Grade Crossing Safety Campaign

October 9, 2020

Two federal agencies have teamed up to launch a national railroad grade crossing safety campaign.

The Federal Railroad Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are overseeing the $6.6 million campaign has been titled “Stop. Trains Can’t.”

The campaign will use radio and online messages to raise public awareness that many fatalities at highway-railway crossings are preventable

A news release noted that over the past five years 798 people have been killed at grade crossings.

Targeted in the campaign, which will run through Nov. 8, are drivers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Texas.

NS Revives Grade Crossing Safety Campaign

September 25, 2020

During Rail Safety Week Norfolk Southern revived a public awareness campaign about its Waze mobile application that seeks to warn motorists approaching grade crossings.

NS uses the Waze app to provide specific safety tips.

“This partnership [with Waze] gives us a chance to reach people that may not otherwise receive these safety messages, and with 30 million Waze users in the United States alone, that is powerful,” said Jason Morris, the NS assistant vice president of safety and environmental.

The NS campaign will provide safety information when motorists approach crossings that have a high number of crossing incidents.

Motorists will see advertisements in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina and Ohio.

NS implemented a similar campaign in 2019 using Waze and said in a news release that areas targeted last year experienced a drop in grade crossing incidents.

The latest NS campaign began in mid-September in advance of National Rail Safety Week (Sept. 21-27).

14 OLI Chapters Receive FHA Safety Grants

April 28, 2020

The Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania chapters of Operation Lifesaver are among 14 state groups that are sharing $200,000 in grants awarded by the Federal Highway Administration.

The funds will be used for highway-rail grade crossing safety public education projects.

This will include campaigns that raise public awareness of the need for caution near grade crossings, and community events that deliver safety tips to motorists and professional drivers.

In a news release OLI officials said the grants were made through a competitive process that took into account safety need, the number of highway-rail collisions in a state, and how the project’s proposal combines federal funding with private partnerships.

Other state chapters that received funding included Arizona, California, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina and Washington.

OLI Grants Awarded to Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania

April 24, 2020

Grants totaling $200,525 have been awarded to Operation Lifesaver chapters in 15 states including Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The funds are being provided in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration and will be used for rail crossing safety and trespass prevention public education projects.

Additional funding of $45,000 was provided by the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh and will be awarded to OLI chapters in three additional states.

Other OLI chapters receiving grants are located in California, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arizona, Texas and Washington.

Individual awards will range from $4,500 to $20,000 and were decided through a competitive process, with selection based on criteria such as using federal funds in tandem with private partnerships, targeted messaging and states with an increased number of pedestrian-train incidents and highway-rail collisions.

OLI Video Targets Truck Drivers

February 14, 2020

Operation Lifesaver has released a video aimed at drivers of cement, dump and garbage trucks that the safety group hopes will prevent grade crossing collisions.

In releasing the video, OLI said the latest data from the Federal Railroad Administration shows there were 506 collisions involving trucks and truck-trailers in 2018, compared with 449 incidents in 2017 and 443 incidents in 2016.

OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh said the weight of cement, dump and garbage trucks and trains has increased the potential for catastrophic results to lives and property.

The video is 3.5 minutes and urges drivers to pay attention when approaching and crossing railroad tracks.

It also urges drivers to know what to if their vehicle becomes stalled or stuck on the tracks.

The video was produced with funding provided by the FRA.

NS to Expand Grade Crossing Safety Program in 2020

January 16, 2020

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana are among nine states in which Norfolk Southern in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration and Operation Lifesaver is intensifying efforts to promote grade crossing safety and discourage trespassing on railroad property.

NS public safety director Will Miller described those efforts at a safety conference hosted by the FRA last year.

The Class 1 carrier began a pilot program last March to incorporate a grade crossing warning feature into Google’s Waze mobile navigation app.

The states chosen for the pilot program, which also include Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, have the highest number of vehicle-rail incidents.

“We looked at areas that had crossings that were close together, that had been problematic for us over time,” Miller said. “We worked with Waze to set up a parameter — which is 5 kilometers in radius — and anytime a Waze user is completely stopped within this targeted area, they will see a brief pop-up safety message.”

The pop-up messages say either “The train you see is closer and moving faster than you think” or “Trains go faster than you think; be cautious when crossing.”

Miller said the warning messages were kept brief to avoid becoming a distraction to drivers.

Safety officials say distracted driving is one factor behind an increase in grade crossing collisions in 2018, the latest year for which figures are available.

The FRA said there were 2,217 collisions at public and private crossings in the United States in 2018, which was up from 2,123 in 2017, 2,049 in 2016 and 2,080 in 2015.

Although the fatalities in those accidents fell to 262 in 2018 from 271 in 2017, the deaths in 2018 outpaced the figures in 2016 (255) and 2015 (237) and tied 2014’s total.

The FRA said these fatalities account for 95 percent of all U.S. rail-related fatalities each year.

Miller said that between March and September of last year, the NS warning campaign reached more than 1 million different Waze users.

“We have found that Waze is successful in providing motorist safety information within targeted areas to help motorists make good decisions at railroad crossings,” he said.

NS plans to expand its use of Waze this year in the nine states it has targeted. The carrier also is creating an online and social media campaign of public service announcements about how to safely cross railroad tracks.

During a November symposium hosted by the FRA, the agency described 16 “actionable” ideas for safety improvements that it is exploring.

The agency has proposed a rule for 40 states to create grade crossing action plans and for 10 other states that already have such plans to update them. Ohio and Indiana are among the latter states.

Although trespassing on railroad property can occur anywhere, an FRA study found nearly 75 percent of all trespasser deaths and injuries occurred within 1,000 feet of a grade crossing.

FRA officials also say they will continue to fund educational programs that help raise rail safety awareness, such as those promoted by Operation Lifesaver.

OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh said at the FRA symposium that the increase in collisions and deaths at crossings is largely due to distracted motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians.

“People want to get to where they’re going quickly and they’re not paying attention,” Maleh says. “They don’t want to wait for a train at a crossing.”

Maleh said OLI has begun working with “nontraditional” partners to promote grade crossing safety.

She said this includes organizations that have a safety focus but may not be thinking specifically about railroad safety. An example of that are organizations that seek to discourage drunken driving.

Feds Continue to Push Updating Grade Crossing Plans

December 5, 2019

Federal authorities continued to push this week their efforts to reduce railroad grade crossing accidents.

Federal Railroad Administration head Ronald Batory and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao spoke at a conference in Washington that addressed grade crossing safety.

Both talked about a proposed rule published last month in the Federal Register that would require the 10 states with the highest number of grade crossing accidents – including Indiana and Ohio – to update their existing safety programs.

“The Department is committed to supporting infrastructure improvements, new communications tools, and working to change driver behavior so that highway-rail grade crossings are safe environments for all transportation users,” Chao said at the conference.

FRA and Operation Lifesaver data show that an average of 250 people a year have died at road crossings in the past decade.

Only trespasser fatalities surpass grade crossing incidents in the number of rail-related deaths in the United States. Batory described grade crossing deaths as preventable.

Speaking about the proposed rule to require states to update their grade crossing safety plans, he said it would “provide states a tool to engage with federal and local partners, railroads, and rail safety advocates to identify high-risk crossings and develop strategies to save lives.”

The other eight states with the highest number of grade crossing incidents are Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and Texas.

Under the proposed rule the states with the highest number of fatalities would need to update their existing grade crossing safety action plans that list the most dangerous crossings and the state’s plans to improve them.

The other 40 states and the District of Columbia would be required to create all new plans.

Public comment is being accepted on the proposed rule through Jan. 6, 2020.

If the rule is adopted states will have one year to create or update their action plans before submitting them to the FRA for review in advance of publication.

FRA Wants States to Create Grade Crossing Plans

November 16, 2019

All states would be required to create a grade crossing action plan or update their existing plan under a proposed rule that the Federal Railroad Administration has proposed.

The rule proposal was published last week in the Federal Register with comments being accepted through Jan. 6, 2020.

The FRA said in its notice of rule making that it is seeking to reduce accidents at grade crossings and is responding to a mandate in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act that the agency promulgate a regulation requiring states to create grade-crossing action plans.

Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas were previously required to develop grade crossing action plans by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Those states would be required under the proposed rule to update plans their existing plan and report on the steps they’ve taken to implement that plan.

NS Partners With WAZE in Crossing Safety Campaign

September 26, 2019

Norfolk Southern will launch a pilot safety campaign to focus on grade crossing incident prevention at six locations including cities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky.

The carrier said it will partner with mobile navigation application WAZE to target drivers with messages promoting safety at and near railroad crossings.

Receiving special attention will be Toledo, Ohio; Gary, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

NS noted that in Gary there have been 28 grade crossing incidents at nine crossings since 1990. Toledo has had 14 incidents at seven crossings since 1981, the east side of Louisville has recorded 40 incidents at 12 crossings since 2000, and in Allegheny County there have been six incidents at five crossings since 2007.

NS said it will use WAZE to provide drivers near railroad crossings with messages promoting grade crossing safety information.

The application will deliver banner notifications to WAZE users who cross into a “geo fence” encompassing several traditionally problem crossings in the targeted areas.

The messages will be sent even if a driver does not drive across a grade crossing.

The notifications will include a crossbuck graphic and a grade crossing safety-inspired message, along with a link to a website with more railroad safety information.

To avoid contributing to distracted driving, the notifications will be delivered once the user’s vehicle stops.

WAZE has 30 million users in the United States and is free to download.

The pilot program will run through the end of 2019.