Rail safety may seem like an afterthought, but with 103 people killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents in 2021, it is still a relevant topic. Illinois has Operation Lifesaver to work on preventing accidents through public awareness campaigns, education programs, and free rail safety presentations.
The non-profit rail safety education and awareness organization is dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities, and injuries at highway-rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. The organization is observing it’s 50th anniversary this year. According to studies, Operation Lifesaver has reduced railroad crossing incidents by 84%. Other studies show that every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the US. ICC Executive Director Mike Merchant says crashes have gone way down.
A new law being pushed through will expand ICC’s authority and use of Grade Crossing Protection Funds for deterring trespassing on railroad property. Operation Lifesaver was founded in 1972 and Illinois was the fourth state to adopt it. Trespassing still remains a problem that Operation Lifesaver is working on.
Volunteers are the heart of the organization and there is an absolute need for them this year. Anyone interested to be an Operation Lifesaver volunteer, can email ICC.RailSafety@illinois.gov.