What is South Carolina Operation Lifesaver?
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver (SC OL) 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. Operation Lifesaver promotes rail safety through public awareness campaigns and education initiatives, including free safety presentations by authorized volunteers. 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. SC OL was founded in 1979 as a program under the nonprofit umbrella of the Southeastern Chapter National Safety Council. SC OL is also a part of a national nonprofit program known as Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI).
Why is Operation Lifesaver Needed?
Sadly, every year people in South 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.
How YOU can help!
Operation Lifesaver wants you and your neighbors to be safe around tracks and trains! Our volunteer speakers are available, free-of-charge, to provide important railroad safety information to the community audiences in addition to professional truck and commercial bus drivers, school bus drivers, young adult drivers, driver education classes, middle and elementary school students, law enforcement and emergency responders. For free safety presentations or specialized training for emergency responders, contact us at Cowen_J@bellsouth.net.
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: community.oli.org/community/form_volunteer_applications.
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver
SC OL Events
Kid's Fair, Charleston, March 2019
Seventeen Years ago we began reminding children and families in Charleston to never walk on railroad tracks at this event sponsored by the Jewish Community Center. This year materials were sponsored by a grant from the Ports Authority Community Giving Program.
Home Run For Healthy Kids, Greenville, October 2018
This is our annual opportunity to speak with thousands of 4th graders from Greenville schools sponsored by Greenville Junior League.
Volunteers Marcus Landy and Sarah Lynne Howie Talking to Greenville 4th graders
Rail Safety Week 2018 was September 23-29, 2018 - “Stop Track Tragedies” was the overriding theme.
OL Canada partnered with OL in the USA to promote Rail Safety Week across North America. We produced seven short testimonial videos to highlight rail safety issues and dangerous behaviors near tracks and released one each day.
Events included: Social Media Release of Testimonials, Homeless RR Safety Outreach, A Governor's Proclamation, Crossing Blitzes across the state, Statewide Interviews with Highway Patrol, Promotion of the 1-800# Emergency Notification System Sign, "No Photos on Tracks" Education to Professional and Amateur Photographers, "Red Out for Rail Safety" Friday.
Sumter Police reminding drivers to use caution when crossing tracks.
Operation Clear Track crossing blitz near USC in Columbia.
Providing "Never Walk on RR Tracks" kits while Sharing Food with the Homeless in Columbia.
Reminding the Homeless Populations in Greenville not to walk on tracks.
Trooper Bob and Trooper David Posted a Video Reminder to Find the Blue and White Sign in Case of Emergency.
Wearing our red shirts in Clemson for Red Out for Rail Safety
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver observed the first national Rail Safety Week (RSW), September 24-30, 2017.
Events included: A Governor's Proclamation and Legislative Community Outreach, Crossing Blitzes (Columbia, Charleston, Lexington, Orangeburg, Spartanburg), Statewide Interviews with Highway Patrol, Social Media push, Radio and Newspaper PSAs, Movie Theater PSAs, Promotion of the 1-800# Emergency Notification System Sign, "No Photos on Tracks" Education to Professional and Amateur Photographers, Bar and Restaurant Patron Education Outreach around Clemson and USC campuses, "Red Out for Rail Safety" Friday.
Frank Macchiaverna (NS), Janice Cowen (SCOL), Governor McMaster, John Dillard (CSX) at Proclamation Reading
USC, Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, CSX, FRA join Operation Lifesaver for safety blitzes on the USC campus.
CSX and Operation Lifesaver "Play it Safe" on the USC Campus.
Highway Patrolman Joel Hovis shares railroad safety tips in an interview in the Upstate.
Supporters from Rail Training and Consulting wear red for #Red Out for Rail Safety.
Rail Safety Education at Bars and Restaurants.
SC OL Safety Partners
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver partners with other safety advocates to spread our message. These partnerships are vital to our efforts to educate the citizens of our state about traffic and pedestrian safety involving railroad tracks, crossings and property.
SCDPS promotes railroad safety.
Below are some of our valuable safety partners:
Railroad Partners - Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern, RJ Corman, Palmetto Railways, Carolina Piedmont Railroad, SC Central Railroad, Pickens Railway, Lancaster and Chester Railway, Aberdeen and Rockfish/Pee Dee River Railway Company, Greenville and Western Railway, Rockton, Rion and Western Railroad State Agencies - SCDOT, SCDPS, SCDOE, SC Highway Patrol, State Transport Police, Criminal Justice Academy, Law Enforcement Network, Community Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS Federal Partners - FRA, FHWA, USDOT, NHTSA Nonprofit Partners - Southeastern Chapter National Safety Council, SC Trucking Association, SC Wildlife, SafeKids, Headstart, Jr. League of Greenville, SC Railroad Musuem, Charleston Area Model Railroad Club, SC Association of Railroads, SC Law Enforcement Officers Association, Alive @ 25, SC Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, MADD, Palmetto Cycling Association Community Partners - Rail Training and Consulting, Purdue, State Farm, CSX Intermodal
SC NSC wears red to support #Red Out for Rail Safety.
SC DOE promotes railroad safety to school bus drivers year-round.
SC OL Statistics
SC crossing collisions were down 4.3 percent in 2018 from 2017, to 44; crossing fatalities fell 55.5 percent to 4; and crossing injuries fell 56.8 percent to 16, FRA statistics reveal. Trespass fatalities increased 140 percent in 2018 to12, and trespass injuries rose 75 percent in 2018 to 7.
“We are gratified with this reduction in highway-rail grade crossing collisions while disheartened with the increase in trespassing incidents,” said SC Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator Janice Cowen. “We will continue our work educating people across SC about how to keep themselves, their friends and their families safe near tracks and trains to avoid these preventable tragedies,” said Cowen.
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver is celebrating our 40th Anniversary! In the past 40 years, motor vehicle-train crashes have dropped 83% in South Carolina. Statistics show that 2018 ended with 44 motor vehicle-train crashes down from 290 incidents in 1977. We are proud of this progress; however, even one crash is too many.
• In 2018, four people were killed and 16 seriously injured in 44 Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collisions (Source: Federal Railroad Administration).
• In 2018, 18 people were killed or seriously injured while Trespassing on railroad rights-of-way and property (Source: Federal Railroad Administration).
• Approximately EVERY 3 HOURS, either a vehicle or pedestrian is struck by a train in the USA.
• A motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.
• More people die in Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collisions in the United States each year than in all commercial and general aviation crashes combined.
• Nearly 50 percent of motor vehicle-train collisions occur at public crossings with Active Warning Devices (Gates, Lights and Bells).
• Three out of Four motor vehicle-train collisions occur within 25 miles of the driver's home.
• The majority of Highway-Rail Grade Crossing collisions occur when the train is traveling less than 30 M.P.H.
Bob Beres - SC Highway Patrol
We salute the amazing support that SC Highway Patrolman Bob Beres gives to Operation Lifesaver. His dedication to railroad safety is evident through his frequent Social Media posts. "Trooper Bob" reminds us to use caution when crossing railroad tracks, looking in both directions for a train, listening for a train whistle and, of course, stopping if you see or hear a train approaching. Bob leads a team of devoted Community Relations Officers who help spread our message across the state through presentations, interviews, and events. Bob has a passion for all highway safety issues and we are fortunate to have him as a wonderful railroad safety partner and friend. Thank you Bob!
South Carolina Operation Leadership Committee
Colonel Leroy Taylor - Deputy Director
State Transport Police
South Carolina Department of Public Safety
Richard Podmore - Director of Safety and Information
Office of Transportation
South Carolina Department of Education
John Dillard - Director of Public Affairs
Janice Cowen - State Coordinator
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver
Frank Macchiaverna - Resident VP
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Peggy Smith - Manager, Community Affairs & Safety-Georgia
Eric Wessinger - Railroad Projects Manager
South Carolina Department of Transportation
John Westerhold, Director
Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs
South Carolina Department of Public Safety
Colonel C. N. Williamson - Commander
South Carolina Highway Patrol
South Carolina Department of Public Safety
Emergency Notification System Sign
Stuck or Stalled on the Crossing - Know what to do? "Find the Blue and White to Save Your Life"
It can take the average freight train traveling at 55 mph a mile or more to stop which is equal to 18 football fields.
A standard line haul unit weighing 80,000 pounds and pulling a 53-foot trailer on a level road under good surface conditions requires a minimum of 14 seconds to clear a single track and more than 15 seconds to clear a double track.
At crossings, don't stop any closer than 15 feet and no further than 50 feet from the crossing. Keep in mind there's an overhang, both for your truck and a train, of 3 feet or more.
Know the length of your trailer and cab. Don't go forward if you can't safely clear the crossing, leaving at least 15 feet behind the rail and your bumper.
If there is a traffic signal or a stop sign across the tracks, make certain traffic will not trap you on the crossing.
Never shift on a railroad crossing to avoid the risk of stalling on the tracks.
Make sure that trailer jacks are in the up position; non-retracted trailer jacks can cause trailers to become stuck on crossings.
If you get stuck at the crossing, get out, find the Blue and White sign Emergency Notification System sign and call the 800 number posted at the crossing. If you can’t find the sign call 911.
Cell phones are the top distraction for all drivers; many states prohibit the use of hand-held devices while driving.
Take the ProDriver challenge!
Drivers - stay safe and avoid potentially deadly incidents at highway-rail grade crossings with our interactive ProDriver Challenge! Get started now at this link. oli.org/prodriver
About every 3 hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train.
But because of support from friends like you, train collisions have been reduced by more than 83 percent over the past few decades, and Operation Lifesaver has played an important role in this achievement. Operation Lifesaver is working to change people’s behavior around railroad tracks and crossings with national public awareness campaigns like See Tracks? Think Train!™. Your generosity is instrumental in ensuring the success of this campaign and other innovative initiatives that save South Carolina lives!
Will you consider supporting South Carolina Operation Lifesaver with a personal gift? If it wasn’t for support and commitment from our community, it would not be possible for us to provide our citizens with much needed education on rail safety.