Operation Lifesaver

Michigan Operation Lifesaver is part of a national, nonprofit continuing education program dedicated to ending tragic collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad rights of way.

To meet its lifesaving goals, Operation Lifesaver is designed to increase public awareness of potential highway-railroad grade crossing hazards and improve driver and pedestrian behavior at these intersections.

The Three E's of Operation Lifesaver

  • Education - Educating people of all ages as to just how potentially hazardous grade crossings can be.
  • Enforcement - If existing laws governing motorists and pedestrian rights and responsibilities at grade crossings are not enforced they will be ignored or broken
  • Engineering - Assists in greater public awareness of federal, state and railroad programs that plan, install and maintain grade crossings, typically through pamphlets and other written information.

Operation Lifesaver urges motorists and professional drivers to remember these safety tips:

  • Never drive around lowered gates - it's illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800-number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency
  • Never race a train to the crossing. Even if you tie, you lose.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks. Never drive onto a railroad crossing until you are sure you can clear the tracks on the other side without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
  • If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. (Move away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is approaching.) Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • At a multiple track crossing, when waiting for a train to pass, always watch out for a second train on the other track, approaching in either direction.
  • Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 mph can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That's at least 18 football fields.
  • Do not be fooled by the optical illusion-the train you see is closer and faster moving than you think! If you see a train approaching, always wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
  • According to National Safety Council statistics, more people die in collisions with trains than in commercial airline crashes. About 4,000 collisions occur at highway-rail grade crossings in the United States each year, with nearly 500 deaths and 1,500 serious injuries.
  • On hikes and outings, remember that railroad property is private property. Walking or hiking on the railroad tracks is trespassing, a criminal offense. Each year nearly 500 people die and hundreds more are injured while trespassing on railroad property.
  • ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.

National Operation Lifesaver 
Michigan Operation Lifesaver
Car Train Crash Statistics Report

For additional information please contact:

Sam A. Crowl, State Coordinator
Michigan Operation Lifesaver
6717 Locust Drive
Troy, Michigan 48098
248-828-7481 (fax)