$1M grant to help reduce leading causes of rail-related deaths

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Deputy Secretary of Transportation Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett on Monday, July 21, announced a $1.015 million grant to continue federal support of public education efforts to reduce collisions between trains and motor vehicles at highway-rail grade crossings and discourage illegal trespassing along railroad rights of way.

“Most rail-related deaths are preventable, and the far-reaching educational outreach efforts of Operation Lifesaver helps save lives every day,” says Barrett, noting that in 2007 there were 338 grade crossing and 473 trespasser deaths, which accounted for a combined 95 percent of all rail-related fatalities.

The grant is being provided by the Federal Railroad Administration and will support the public outreach and training programs of Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national not-for-profit rail safety organization. An additional $338,332 will be generated in matching funds or services, says Barrett, who announced the FRA grant at the OLI International Symposium in Covington, Ky.

The federal funds will be used for OLI’s States Assistance Program, which provides up to 50 grants to state organizations that manage railroad safety awareness programs. In addition, the FRA grant will support training programs for OLI’s more than 2,100 volunteer trainers and presenters, specialized communications programs, publications and other related materials.

The annual FRA grant funding will be used for new OLI initiatives, including production of a training video for commercial truck and bus drivers, development of more outreach resources for the Hispanic community, creation of new public service announcements and a special initiative targeting college age and 25- to 30 year-olds. Also, in response to the consistently high and relatively unchanged number of trespass deaths in recent years, OLI will renew its emphasis on addressing trespass issues.