When driving your vehicle, it's easy to think you're the king of the road. But when that road intersects with railway tracks, be prepared to give up your crown.
Trains are massive columns of speeding metal that can take more than a kilometre to come to a complete stop. As a driver, you need to respect their size and power or risk serious consequences.
Vehicle collisions with trains result in an average of 12 injuries and 2 deaths each year in Saskatchewan. The human cost is tragic, particularly because collisions with trains are entirely preventable.
Railway crossing tips
- Be alert and prepared to stop.
As you approach a crossing - whether marked or uncontrolled - remember to slow down and look both ways. You must stop if you see a train coming since they always have the right of way.
- Never try to race through a crossing before a train arrives.
They aren't required to slow down at crossings and their speed can often be difficult to gauge. Trying to save a few seconds by beating the train simply isn't worth the risk. Regardless of what you drive, in a collision with a train, the train will always win.
- To reinforce this point, many rail crossings are equipped with electronic warning devices. Their message is simple: stop your vehicle and wait until it's safe to proceed. Don't needlessly put yourself in harm's way by ignoring flashing lights or driving around barrier arms.
- Even if you make it safely over the tracks, a hefty fine could be waiting for you on the other side. Tickets for failing to obey a stop signal at a railway crossing start at $220.
- Exercise caution around railway tracks even if you don't see a train approaching.
A common mistake is stopping on the tracks while waiting for traffic ahead of you to proceed. Not only do you risk a collision with a train, but your vehicle could be struck by the barrier arms if they're activated.
- To avoid these situations, stop well behind the barriers and wait until you have enough room to clear the tracks completely.
- Be sure to look for multiple sets of tracks.
They are indicated by a small numbered sign under the traditional railway crossbuck. Don't proceed after a train has passed until making sure another isn't approaching on a different set of tracks.
- Watch for other vehicles stopping in front of you.
Half of all crashes occurring at crossings are rear-end collisions where the lead vehicle is slowing down or stopping.
- Pay particular attention to school buses since they are required to stop at all uncontrolled railway crossings. Flashing amber lights will be activated on the bus, giving you plenty of warning before it stops.
Staying safe near trains isn't complicated. Rather, it's a matter of knowing the rules and obeying them to ensure that you arrive at your destination safely.