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About SC OL

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

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:

Janice Cowen
State Coordinator
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver

SC OL Events

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

South Carolina Operation Lifesaver works to reduce the number of motor vehicle-train crashes and trespasser incidents within our state. In the past 40 years, motor vehicle-train crashes have dropped 83% in South Carolina. Statistics show that 2017 ended with 46 motor vehicle-train crashes down from 290 incidents in 1977. We are proud of this progress; however, even one crash is too many.

• In 2017, nine people were killed and 35 seriously injured in 46 Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collisions (Source: Federal Railroad Administration).

• In 2017, 8 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.

Supporter Spotlight

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

Phil Riley - Director
Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs
South Carolina Department of Public Safety

Vice Chairperson
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

Janice Cowen - State Coordinator
South Carolina Operation Lifesaver

Members –

Sheriee S. Bowman - Manager, Community Affairs & Safety-Georgia
CSX Transportation

John Dillard - Director of Public Affairs
CSX Transportation

Eric Wessinger - Railroad Projects Manager
South Carolina Department of Transportation

Frank Macchiaverna - Resident VP
Norfolk Southern Corporation

Colonel C. N. Williamson - Commander
South Carolina Highway Patrol

Donate to South Carolina Operation Lifesaver

DONATE TODAY by clicking this link!

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.

Contact Us

Janice Cowen State Coordinator

803-206-9081 (mobile)

4149 E. Buchanan Drive
Columbia , South Carolina    29206