Each year, highway-rail crashes kill over 500 people, over 2,000 more are seriously injured.
Operation Lifesaver is:
An active continuous public information and education program to help prevent and reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities and improve driver performance at the nation's 268,000 public and private highway/rail grade crossings.
Why it is needed:
. . . Because thousands of people are seriously injured and hundreds are killed in highway/rail grade crossing crashes and trespass incidents each year.
. . . Because a rail/highway grade crossing presents a unique traffic environment for motorists, many drivers do not cross railroad tracks often enough to be familiar with the warning devices designed for their safety. Often they are unaware that trains cannot stop as quickly as motor vehicles to avoid a collision. Others simply ignore all warnings because they are "in a hurry" and would rather play "beat the train" than wait. Driver ignorance and impatience are the most common factors contributing to motor vehicle/train collisions at highway/rail grade crossings.
When it began:
. . . Operation Lifesaver began in Idaho in 1972 after community leaders and the railroad together developed a public education program to avoid tragedies by urging people to make safe decisions at highway-rail grade crossings. At the end of the first year, Idaho's highway-rail grade crossing fatality rate dropped by 39 percent.
. . . A second program, initiated in Nebraska, demonstrated even more impressive results after a one-year period -- a 46 percent reduction in rail/highway grade crossing fatalities.
. . . In recent years, the program has been expanded to encourage safety on rail rights-of-way with the slogan, "Stay Off! Stay Away! Stay Alive!"
Where it is active:
Fifty states, the District of Columbia, and several countries including Canada, Mexico, England, Estonia, and Australia have their own Operation Lifesaver programs. It is at the grassroots level -- in the cities, in rural communities, and in the schools where Operation Lifesaver has been most effective. States have reported fatality reductions at highway/rail grade crossings ranging from 28 percent to 100 percent one year after establishing the program.
Who gets involved:
. . . The nation's railroads, related federal, state, and local governments, business, railroad suppliers, labor, civic and community leaders and other concerned safety professionals are all part of state programs. But it doesn't end there. Any person, including yourself and your organization, is welcome to join a state program or become involved at the local level doing whatever you can to help educate motorists that they need to exercise greater care when driving across highway/rail grade crossings and to stay off railroad tracks and away from related railroad property.
How you can help:
. . . As we've said, the key to the success of Operation Lifesaver is through participation at the grassroots level. You can become involved by contacting Operation Lifesaver, Inc. or your state Operation Lifesaver Coordinator. Your local PTA, church, women's club, civic or fraternal organizations to which you belong may want to be part of Operation Lifesaver.
Maine Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
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