50th Anniversary

In 2022 the Operation Lifesaver train safety movement turned 50. During that time, our partnership with industry, government agencies, and law enforcement has resulted in a remarkable improvement in safety.

When Operation Lifesaver began in Idaho in 1972 there were about 12,0000 collisions at U.S. highway-rail grade crossings every year. To address this tragic reality, the Idaho governor’s office, along with the Idaho Peace Officers and Union Pacific Railroad launched a six-week public awareness educational campaign called Operation Lifesaver to promote highway-rail grade crossing safety. After Idaho’s crossing-related fatalities decreased that year by nearly 50%, the successful program was adopted by Nebraska (1973) and in Kansas and Georgia the following year. Within a decade it had spread across the country.

When Operation Lifesaver began, once every 45 minutes a person or vehicle was hit by a train in the United States of America. In the last fifty years, we’ve helped reduce the number of collisions by 80%.. Given the increase in population and train traffic since 1972, this safety record is remarkable. Amtrak, one of Operation Lifesaver’s key partners, celebrated Operation Lifesaver’s contributions to railroad safety education by creating this 50th anniversary locomotive in 2022.

From New York State Operation Lifesaver’s beginnings we’ve partnered with railroads, law enforcement agencies, the NYS Department of Transportation, the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, the Federal Railroad Administration and others.

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. the national non-profit organization that certifies our volunteers training, maintains standards, and a host of other important work, was created in 1986. Operation Lifesaver, Inc helps support the efforts of state OL programs like New York Operation Lifesaver and raises national awareness on highway-rail grade crossing issues. There are now 46 state Operation lifesaver programs across the USA.

A person or vehicle is still hit every three hours by a train, so we know there is a continuing need, even after 50 years, for the work that Operation Lifesaver does.

About Operation Lifesaver, Inc.

Operation Lifesaver is a national non-profit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. Operation Lifesaver, Inc.  supports and coordinate the efforts of state Operation Lifesaver programs. Operation Lifesaver’s network of trained volunteers gives thousands of free presentations on rail safety every year. Operation Lifesaver, Inc’s public awareness campaign,“See Tracks? Think Train!”provides tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. Learn more about Rail Safety Week