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Operation Lifesaver

Ever stopped to consider the dangers involved with crossing highway-rail grade intersections or trespassing on railroad property?  Operation Lifesaver has...

We know that injuries and fatalities that occur at highway-rail crossings or on railroad property are a real, but often preventable, problem. Few people realize that in America, a person or vehicle is hit by a train roughly every three hours, and that's a reality we're determined to change. Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit organization providing public education programs in all 50 states to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings.

Mission and History

Operation Lifesaver started in 1972 when the average number of collisions at U.S. highway-rail grade crossings had risen above 12,000 incidents annually. To address this, 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 fell that year by 43%, the successful program was adopted by Nebraska (1973) and Kansas and Georgia the following year. Within a decade it had spread around the country; in 1986 a non-profit national Operation Lifesaver office was created to help support the efforts of state OL programs and raise national awareness on highway-rail grade crossing issues.

Today Operation Lifesaver's network of authorized volunteer speakers and trained instructors offer free rail safety education programs in fifty states. We speak to school groups, driver education classes, community audiences, professional drivers, law enforcement officers, and emergency responders. Our programs are co-sponsored by federal, state and local government agencies, highway safety organizations and America's railroads. Together we promote the three E's - education, enforcement and engineering - to keep people safe around the tracks and railway crossings within our communities.

Trains - passenger, light-rail, and freight - offer among the most efficient transportation available to move us into the 21st century. U.S. Department of Transportation projections calling for substantial increases in rail transport over the next three decades mean that we, along with rail safety partners in the rail industry and at the federal, state and local levels, must work together to meet the safety challenges that accompany a rail renaissance. As advanced technology helps build quieter, faster trains, our responsibility to teach people how to be safe around them increases, too. At Operation Lifesaver, we're committed to raising awareness and improving public safety on and around highway-rail grade crossings and tracks through public awareness and education; we're committed to saving lives.

See Tracks?  Think Train!

Operation Lifesaver’s mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property through a nationwide network of volunteers who work to educate people about rail safety. For more information and safety tips for motorists and pedestrians, log on to


Meet Mark...Mark Kalina, an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer from Ohio, tells the story about the day his life changed due to a shortcut across train tracks.


Become a Volunteer

Steps to becoming an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer (OLAV):

  • Volunteers will first attend the online classroom, “The AVE” (Authorized Volunteer e-Learning), which will be available 24/7, whenever it fits YOUR schedule.  You can save your progress in the online training module, and are encouraged to complete it over more than one session.

  • After completing the AVE online classroom, the next step will be to attend an in-person classroom session or videoconference where you will complete the OLAV process.

  • Authorized volunteers will continue to report their safety activities via Operation Lifesaver’s online reporting database, so they can easily keep track of their presentations, training and special events.

  •  With the new OLAV program, OL volunteers will have more options to choose from for interacting with an audience.

  • Volunteers must fully understand and agree to abide by all OLI general policies and procedures as stated in the volunteer application.

View/complete the OLAV Online Application:

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