Why is Rail Safety Important?
Did you know there are 73,047 kilometres of railway tracks and about 55,000 public, private and pedestrian highway/railway crossings in Canada?
It is important to talk to children about the importance of rail safety. Teach them about being safe around railway tracks and around trains. Children can easily be swayed by peer pressure into taking risks because they may not fully understand the danger in the situation.
You and your child are walking down the sidewalk towards a railway crossing. As you approach, the lights begin to flash and the gates come down. How long is it from the time the lights begin to flash until the train rockets through the crossing? One minute? Two minutes?
ANSWER: as little as 20 seconds - definitely not enough time to make it across.
Trains often look like they are moving slow because of how big they are.
Quick Rules for Rail Safety
Each year in Canada, about 100 people are killed and another 100 seriously injured in incidents with trains. These incidents can involve either a pedestrian and a train collision or a vehicle and train collision.
Obeying signals is important at rail crossings. Flashing light signals and gates activate by as little as 20 seconds before a train reaches the crossing. This does not give pedestrians or motorists enough time to safely cross the track. No one should ever try to beat the train.
Trains are often closer and are moving faster than you may realize. Depending on the size of the train, if it is travelling at 105 km/h, it can take two minutes to come to a stop. That means a train can travel a distance of 2,500 metres from the time it brakes to the time it comes to a complete stop. Unlike a car, a train cannot swerve to avoid an oncoming collision.
Teaching Kids About Rail Safety
Walk with your child and discuss rail safety at a level they can understand. As your child grows and matures, making safe choices will become second nature.
1. Don’t take shortcuts. If you are not crossing at a designated crossing, you are trespassing. This is dangerous and illegal. Walk to a designated crossing.
2. Cross at the right place and time. The only place to cross at railway tracks is at a designated crossing. Do not try to cross the tracks when the flashing lights have come on and the gate is down.
3. Obey the signals. Never walk around a closed gate. At designated crossings, flashing light signals and gates activate only 20 seconds before the train reaches the crossing. This is not enough time to cross the track.
4. Make sure the way is clear. If you must cross railway tracks, stop, look and listen before crossing.
5. A train cannot stop as quickly as a car. A train needs much more time and space to come to a complete stop than a car needs. Unlike a car, a train cannot swerve to avoid a collision.
6. Never try to outrun a train. Trains are closer and are moving faster than you realize. The average 150-car freight train is travelling at 100 km/h.
7. Stand five metres (16 feet) back from the rail. Objects can fall from trains. Stand at least five metres back from the tracks to avoid getting hit by falling objects.
8. Check for a second train. If one train passes, make sure a second train isn’t following behind or approaching on another track. Wait until the first train has passed and then make sure both tracks are clear before crossing.
9. Never ride a bicycle over train tracks. The wheels can get caught in the track and you could fall off your bicycle. Always walk your bicycle across the tracks when it is safe to cross.
10. Do not trespass. Railway property is private property. Playing on railway tracks and bridges is dangerous and illegal. It is against the law to trespass on railway property.
Updated September 18, 2018