What is North Carolina Operation Lifesaver?
North Carolina Operation Lifesaver (NCOL) is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks. NCOL promotes rail safety through public awareness campaigns and education initiatives, including free safety presentations by authorized volunteers. We speak to school groups, driver education classes, community audiences, professional drivers, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, and others. Our program is co-sponsored by state and local government agencies, highway safety organizations, America's railroads, and other entities. Together we promote the three E's - education, enforcement and engineering - to keep people safe around the tracks and railway crossings within our communities. NCOL is part of a national nonprofit program known as Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI).
Why is Operation Lifesaver Needed?
Sadly, every year people in North Carolina are killed or injured at highway-rail crossings and at other locations along railroad tracks.
Many people are unaware that trains cannot stop quickly to avoid collisions; or, they take chances by ignoring warning signs and signals, going around lowered gates, stopping on tracks, or simply not paying attention when approaching highway-rail crossings. People also make the potentially fatal mistake of choosing railroad tracks as shortcuts or as places to walk or run for recreation. They may not realize that walking on train tracks is illegal, or understand how quickly and quietly a train can approach. Our safety tips can save your life – or the life of someone you love.
Become an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer
We are always looking for high-energy volunteers to help us spread our important message. Our volunteers are everywhere—schools, training programs, law enforcement events and safety fairs—with the common purpose of keeping our citizens safe. You can begin the process today by clicking here..
NC OL Events
No events currently scheduled. Please check back soon.
NC OL Safety Partners
NCOL is fortunate to have several sponsors and partners in Rail Safety.
Cayela Wimberly, Norfolk-Southern Railway - Vice-Chair
Paul Worley, Mott MacDonald - Treasurer
Allan Paul, NC DOT - Rail Division
Capt. Freddy Johnson, NC State Highway Patrol
Robert Broome, NC GHSP
Paul Dlouhy, NC DMV
Tony Long, Mint Hill Tool Rental
Jim Westmoreland, Manager - City of Greensboro
The Honorable AB Swindell
NC OL Statistics
In 2016, 28 people lost their lives in railroad incidents in North Carolina; 23 while walking on railroad tracks, and 5 in highway-rail incidents (where a vehicle and train interact). A comparison of 2015 vs. 2016 statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration is shown below.
So far in 2017 trespass fatalities have decreased but highway-rail fatalities have doubled.
Especially for Photographers
Many people are unaware that ALL railroad tracks, whether active or "abandoned," are private property. Being on railroad tracks for any reason is illegal and, in North Carolina, is a Class 3 Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300! (In other states, the penalities may be higher!)
Railroad tracks are often used as a backdrop for photography - for weddings, prom and senior pictures, for kids who really like trains. Not only is this practice illegal, it's also very dangerous. Modern trains are faster, longer, and quieter than ever before. In some locations, trains are required NOT to use their horns (No Train Horn zones) and can, literally, sneak up on you. Just look at this piece that appeared on NBC's Today Show last year: Dangerous New Trend
Trains can't stop quickly to avoid people and vehicles on the tracks.
It takes a mile or more to stop a freight train traveling 55 miles per hour. By the time the engineer sees you, it's probably too late to stop.
No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned and inactive. And even so, they're still private property and you are more than likely trespassing.
People in your community, or those who see your photos on Facebook, Instagram, or websites, mimic your behavior, which may put them in danger.
Take a moment to download NCOL's Photographer's Pledge. Complete the pledge and return it to NCOL via mail or email and we'll post your name and a link to your business on this page.
Here are some safety tips to share with your friends and family. Many more are available at community.oli.org/state/OLI.org.
Click here to request a presentation or more information.
Trains and cars don't mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That's 18 football fields!
Never drive around lowered gates — it's illegal and deadly. And don't stop on tracks - THAT'S illegal and deadly.
If your vehicle ever stalls on the tracks, get out and get away from the tracks, even if you do not see a train. Locate the Emergency Notification System sign and call the number provided, telling them about the stalled vehicle. If a train is approaching, run toward the train but away from the tracks at a 45 degree angle. If you run in the same direction a train is traveling, you could be injured by flying debris. For more information about the Emergency Notification System sign (the "Blue Sign") click here.
OLAV (Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer) News and Photographs
First Sgt. Kevin Shallington, NCOL State Director Margaret Cannell, and Trooper Randy Bridges
Instead of an annual luncheon, NCOL State Director Margaret Cannell will treat OLAVs to dinner in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilson. But OLAV and NC State Highway Patrol Trooper Charles "Randy" Bridges warranted a special lunch to recognize his efforts in 2017. Of the 192 presentations made in NC, Trooper Bridges made 92 of them! In his capacity as Traffic Safety Information Coordinator for Highway Patrol Troop C, District 9, Randy incorporates a rail safety message into all his presentations. He has reached more than 3000 people during 2017 alone!
North Carolina Operation LifesaverMargaret Cannell, Executive Director