April 26, 2007

Transport Canada focuses on drivers and pedestrians during Rail Safety Week

Ottawa, Ontario – Transport Canada has issued recommendations for drivers and pedestrians at railway crossings during Rail Safety Week. The agency says that people are 40 times more likely to die in a train collision than in a collision with another car. The average locomotive weighs 110 tonnes, while a car weighs only two; a train travelling at 100 km/h needs the length of 14 football fields to come to a complete stop.

Operation Lifesaver, a national public education program, reports that in 2004, 25 people lost their lives and 50 were seriously injured in collisions with trains. Most crashes occur within 40 km of the motorist’s home; researchers at the University of Calgary found that many drivers involved in collisions with trains were familiar with the crossings and had used them regularly. This familiarity may encourage drivers to take greater risks, such as driving around active gates or trying to beat the train.

“Because of the angle of approach and size of the train, it appears that the train’s speed is slower than it really is,” says Gary Drouin of Transport Canada. “When the bells start ringing, the train will be at the crossing in approximately 22 seconds. And the impact of a train/car collision is the equivalent of a car driving over a pop can.”

Transport Canada suggests turning off distractions like radios, fans and heaters, asking children to be quiet until the crossing is safely passed and opening the window to help you hear for a train. Never drive under a gate as it is closing, or around a closed gate. If your car stalls on the crossing and you hear a train or the warning devices start, do not try to start the vehicle or push it off the tracks, but get everyone out of the car quickly and run down the road, away from the crossing. Call 9-1-1 and the 800 number posted on the crossing as soon as possible.

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