Each year for the last four decades, New York Operation Lifesaver volunteers have facilitated hundreds of free safety presentations for groups ranging from pre-school to law enforcement.  Our volunteers also attend fairs, model train shows and other community events across New York State. New York Operation Lifesaver relies on these committed people who consistently give their time and effort to educate people about how to stay safe around railroads.

A non-profit public safety education and awareness organization, New York Operation Lifesaver focuses on reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings, and reducing trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Our volunteers share our goal: to give New Yorkers the information that will keep them safe around railroad tracks and property, because we believe this information will inevitably save lives. When Operation Lifesaver began in 1972 there were over 12,000 collisions per year between trains, cars and people in the United States of America. That’s one every 45 minutes. Due to the coalition of industry, government and nonprofits like Operation Lifesaver, the rate of collisions has come down by over 80%.

Still, every three hours, on average, somewhere in our nation a person or a vehicle will be hit by a train. Nearly all these incidents could be averted if people knew more about train safety.

The situation is the same in New York. In 1980 there were 159 train collisions in New York State resulting in 22 fatalities. In 2021 due to the partnership of government agencies, commuter and freight railroads, Law Enforcement, and nonprofits like New York Operation Lifesaver, there were just 27 train collisions and 3 fatalities, a reduction of over 80% compared to 1980. 

We’ve found that every audience and every age can be helped by our train safety program. So, we’ll go anywhere in new York State to get the word out.

New York Operation Lifesaver is part of a coalition of train safety experts from many disciplines, coming from railroad industry, academia, government agencies and law enforcement whose mission is to address train safety through the three E’s: Enforcement of traffic laws; Engineering improvements; and Education. The work of this partnership has reduced both train collisions, and train caused fatalities, by over 80% but our goal is to #stoptracktragedies so no families have to suffer needlessly.

2023 Projects

#StopTrackTragedies, Mock Crash for Safety – Sunday September 24, 2023.

With Co-Host buffalo Southern Railroad we’re going to crash a train moving at 25MPH into a car “stuck” on the tracks. We’ve had help from lots of companies and agencies, including CSX ,local first responders, Towne Auto Group (thanks for the car!), other local companies, local and state law enforcement agencies, the FRA and the NYS DOT. Find out more


Video Greeting Card Outreach Project – We’re MAILING out about 800 video greeting cards to Educators, Law Enforcement personnel, Firefighters, First Responders and others. That’s right we’re using old-fashioned mail to get our message to decision makers in education, law enforcement agencies and etc. Our goal is to secure 200 new presentations in 2024. That’s more presentations than most OL state organizations do in a year.


On 9/6/2023 NYOL and Fairport Partnership unveiled the safety plaque that will be placed in the Fairport Junction Rail Safety Platform.

Safety Plaque placed at Fairport Junction Rail Viewing Platform, Fairport , NY

Metro North Commuter Railroad and Operation Lifesaver Teamed up to host the Metro Man Trespass Prevention Video/Meme Contest

Youth Contest Uses Creativity to Spread #RailSafety message.

This 2021 contest was open to anyone 30 or under. Contestants created either a meme or video featuring Metro North’s safety superhero Metro-Man™ spreading the rail safety message. 

Here’s the Metro-Man™ rail safety education contest winning meme

Here’s the video we used to advertise the contest, Please Remember that the contest is over!

Metro North and NYOL host Distracted Driver Public Awareness Campaign in 2021

We developed a PSA for this campaign (editing a PSA already produced by OLI) and targeted this PSA to those people going through Metro North at-grade crossings in New York and Connecticut. When next these drivers used their cell phone they would be likely to hear this PSA https://youtu.be/Pn49OBwCfe0

The PSA was played more than 450,000 times. We also used social media influencers to spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving, reaching millions of people with this new way of spreading our rail safety message.


Roughly 1,000 people die from train collisions every year. Astonishing and sad, but true.
Each year Operation Lifesaver hosts Rail Safety Week throughout the US to highlight train safety issues.

International Level Crossing Awareness Day

ILCAD takes place every June. In 2021 and 2022, NYOL created a one day ad campaign. This year our 30 second PSAs were seen by 115,000 people throughout New York.

ILCAD is a global commitment to raise public awareness about the dangers associated with the road/rail interfaces known as level crossings or grade crossings. The first ILCAD was held on June 25th, 2009 with participation in 28 countries, and has since expanded to over 40 countries worldwide. In 2020 New York Operation Lifesaver for the first time joined our partners in New York State like the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro North Railroad to celebrate International Level Crossing Awareness Day.

NYOL Success Stories from 2020

Trespass Prevention Campaign

NYOL teamed up with commuter and class one and short line freight railroads throughout New York to create a statewide trespass campaign. While collisions in New York State have come down, trespass fatalities have remained stubbornly consistent. We developed Spanish and English language PSAs for this campaign and used geofence techniques to play them for those people living and working near “trespass corridors.”  These and other videos we produced were played nearly 1.5 million times on social media

This campaign poster was in Metro North and LIRR stations from Grand Central to Ronkonkoma.

Our English and Spanish Trespass PSAs, were seen over three million times on TV stations in the NYC metro area.

In 2019 1,122 people were injured or killed while trespassing. Don’t become a statistic stay off the tracks and cross only at designated areas.

At-Grade Crossing Safety Campaign

Our PSAs and ads have been seen over four and a half million times by people throughout New York.

Our targeted ads concentrated on the 15 crossings with the highest likelihood of collisions according to Federal Railroad Administration data. Whether our message was never try to beat a train, like in the example above of the banner ads we’re running on-line, or to never go around a downed gate, we tried to get people to make safe decisions railroad crossings.

Emergency Notification System

Have You Heard of the Emergency Notification System Blue and White sign?

Our Emergency Notification System campaign targeted both truck drivers and the general driving public information about the blue and white Emergency Notification System sign located at every railroad crossing. Our ads were seen 2.3 million times on line and our Gas Station TV ads were seen another half million times. We want to thank TravelCenters of America for partnering with us and putting up posters and other print material in their New York locations.

Do You Know What to do if your vehicle gets stuck at a railroad crossing?

Get Out of your Vehicle. Look for an approaching Train. Then find the blue and white Emergency Notification Sign on the signal post – like in the picture on the right. Call the 800 number on the sign. This puts you in touch with the railroad company and they are the only ones able to stop an oncoming train. If you can’t find the sign call 911

For over thirty years, New York Operation Lifesaver (NYOL) volunteers have provided free safety presentations throughout New York State.
NYOL is sponsored by federal, state and local governement agencies, New York’s railroads and other entities. Throughout New York, we work with schools, law enforcement agencies, railroads, and governement officials to spread the message of safety at railroad crossings and along tracks to as many people as possible.

Operation Lifesaver History

New York Operation Lifesaver is part of a national nonprofit program known as Operation LIfesaver, Inc. (OLI)).

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 43%, 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. In 1986 a non-profit Operation Lifesaver national office was created to help support the efforts of state OL programs and raise national awareness on highway-rail grade crossing issues.

Today there are about 2,100 collisions every year, a reduction of over 80% over the last fifty years. While that is a great indication of how important the work we do is, there are still about 8 collisions every day between a train and a car or a person. Even one is too much.