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Railway Crossing Safety Tips

According to Transport Canada, there are 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along more than 40,000 kilometers of federally regulated railway track in Canada. If you ever come across these crossings, it’s important to know how to navigate them. Follow these railway crossing safety tips to ensure extra caution.

For Drivers

  • Be prepared to slow down and stop when you see a large “X” near a railway crossing.
  • When approaching a railway crossing make sure you turn down any audio in your vehicle to listen for the train and look both ways before crossing. Do not look at your phone or drive distracted.
  • Be sure that you are able to cross the tracks safely. Do not try to race the train.
  • Trains have the right of way.
  • It takes a while for a train to come to a complete stop.
  • If a train is approaching, make sure you are at least five metres from the nearest rail or gate.
  • If one train passes, there could be a second train shortly behind it. Stay put until a train has completely passed and there is no other train in sight.
  • If there is a barrier or gate at the railway crossing, wait till it rises before driving across.
  • Do not attempt to drive around or under a barrier or gate.
  • Trains aren’t always on schedule, expect a train at any time.
  • Obey any flashing signals.
  • Watch out for any traffic on the other side of the tracks.
  • Do not attempt to shift gears on a railway crossing.

If you do happen to get stuck on the train tracks, exit your vehicle immediately and stand in a safe area, far from your vehicle and the tracks. It’s possible that debris from a collision could hit you if you stand too close. Call the police and the number on the Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign near the railway crossing.

For Pedestrians and Cyclists

  • Do not walk or play along on the train tracks. If you have children, be sure to remind them of this important rule.
  • Remain alert when you are around train tracks. Turn down any music you may be listening to or avoid looking at your phone.
  • Be sure to cross at properly marked railway crossings.
  • Cyclists are required to follow the same railway crossing rules as motorists.
  • Cyclists should cross the train tracks at right angles to the rails.
  • Try not to turn your front wheel when crossing on a bike. Keep a firm hold on the handlebars.
  • Railways crossings can be slippery, ride slowly and safely.

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railway crossing “X” sign by train tracks

Learning how to cross a railway safely is one of the components of driving defensively. Railway crossings also known as grade crossings are intersections where a road or path appears to cross railways tracks at the same level.

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