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About NC OL

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

Rail Safety Week (RSW) will be held in the U.S. and Canada from Monday, September 21 through Sunday, September 27. Operation Clear Track (OCT) will be Tuesday, September 22, with a rain date of Wednesday, September 23. Canada will also participate in OCT again this year; Mexico will participate for the first time.

Did you see this? May 30, 2018, Star, NC On Wednesday, May 30, NCOL, NCDOT-BeRailSafe, and the Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railroad staged the first ever (at least in NC, if not in the world) collision between a moving vehicle and a moving train. The event was coordinated by Crash Data Specialists, LLC.

The locomotive, driven by ACWR's Ed Thum, and including ACWR President Jennifer Harrell as a passenger, reached a speed of 22 miles per hour within 400 feet, from a dead stop. The vehicle, provided by the NC State Highway Patrol, was propelled forward by a pulley system attached to the rear of the locomotive. The collision resulted in "fatal" injuries to two of the three occupants of the vehicle. Click on one of the three links below for footage of the crash.

youtube.com/watch?v=-whxD13T9Gs
vimeo.com/272650324
vimeo.com/272644314

NC OL Safety Partners

NCOL is fortunate to have several sponsors and partners in Rail Safety.

Norfolk-Southern Railway
CSX Transportation
Railway Association of North Carolina
Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railroad
Cranemasters
McRail
Southeast Railroad Supply, Inc.
Stantec
Laurinburg & Southern Railroad, Yadkin Valley Railroad, Kinston & Snow Hill Railroad
Alexander Railroad Company
Mid East Railroad Service, Inc.

Partners:

NC Dept. of Transportation Rail Division
NC State Highway Patrol
NC Dept. of Motor Vehicles
NC Governor's Highway Safety Program
Charlotte Area Transit System
Federal Railroad Administration
Amtrak
NCOL is proud to partner with BeRailSafe to inform and educate North Carolinians about Rail Safety.

Board Members:

Jennifer White, Aberdeen, Carolina & Western Railroad - Chair
Jahmal Pullen, NCDOT - Rail Division - Vice-Chair
Paul Worley, Mott MacDonald - Treasurer
Major Freddy Johnson, NC State Highway Patrol
Mark Ezzell, NC GHSP
Paul Dlouhy, NC DMV
Tony Long, Mint Hill Tool Rental
Jim Westmoreland, PE
The Honorable AB Swindell
Tricia Lusk Milam, Amtrak

NC OL Statistics

In 2019, 27 people lost their lives in railroad incidents in North Carolina; 22 while walking on railroad tracks (trespassing), and 5 in highway-rail incidents (where a vehicle and train interact). A comparison of 2018 vs. 2019 statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration is shown below.

For 2019, North Carolina ranks 6th in the nation in the number of trespassing fatalities. While there were far fewer fatalities or injuries resulting from highway-rail incidents in 2019, the number of incidents was only reduced by 5%. NC is ranked 13th in the number of highway-rail incidents.

As of May, 2020, four people have lost their lives trespassing on tracks, and no fatalities have been reported as a result of highway-rail incidents.

All railroad tracks in NC are private property, trespassing on them is a Class 3 Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $350.00.

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

Remember:

  • 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.

Safety Tips

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

Zoom is the new Face-to-Face!
May 12, 2020 -- Four new OLAVs completed their training by Zoom Face-To-Face interviews today! Welcome Ella Wise of Spring Lake, Richard Ingram of Coats, Sarah Urruti of Burlington, and Daniel Cramp of Kings' Mountain!

Did you see this? On Wednesday, May 30,2018, NCOL, NCDOT-BeRailSafe, and the Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railroad staged the first ever (at least in NC, if not in the world) collision between a moving vehicle and a moving train. The event was coordinated by Crash Data Specialists, LLC.

The locomotive, driven by ACWR's Ed Thum, and including ACWR President Jennifer Harrell as a passenger, reached a speed of 22 miles per hour within 400 feet, from a dead stop. The vehicle, provided by the NC State Highway Patrol, was propelled forward by a pulley system attached to the rear of the locomotive. The collision resulted in "fatal" injuries to two of the three occupants of the vehicle. Click on one of the three links below for footage of the crash.

youtube.com/watch?v=-whxD13T9Gs
vimeo.com/272650324
vimeo.com/272644314

Contact Us

North Carolina Operation Lifesaver Margaret Cannell, Executive Director

919-612-7674 (mobile)

Raleigh , NC    27608