New virtual-reality video aims to reduce collisions between trains and all-terrain vehicles

May 16, 2018

OTTAWA — Spring has sprung, and that means thousands of Canadians will be jumping in the saddles of their all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). But Operation Lifesaver (OL) wants to remind ATV riders to exercise caution, especially around railway tracks and property.

Every year, dozens of Canadians – especially young Canadians – are killed or injured when they put themselves in unsafe situations around railway tracks and trains. These incidents are devastating for the individuals involved, their friends and family, railway employees, first responders and communities. And virtually all of these incidents could be avoided.

Today, OL unveiled a new virtual-reality (VR) video, produced in partnership with the Central Ontario ATV Club, which is aimed at preventing collisions between trains and ATVs. The video immerses viewers in a 3D environment, and gives them the shocking – and hopefully unforgettable – experience of being hit by a train. The video is the latest addition to the Look. Listen. Live. campaign first launched by OL last April.

“Our message to ATVers is simple: go off road, but stay off railway tracks and property,” said Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada. “It’s both illegal and extremely dangerous to ride on or alongside railway tracks.”

“Trains often carry cargo that is much wider than the tracks, and can seriously injure or kill a rider alongside it. ATVs also tend to have loud engines — and when you’re wearing a helmet, that can mask the sound of an oncoming train.”

According to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada, in 2017, there were 222 rail-related crossing and trespassing incidents in Canada, which killed 72 people and seriously injured another 44. It’s unclear how many of these incidents involved all-terrain vehicles, as the TSB doesn’t publish data on the types of vehicles implicated in rail-related incidents. 

In addition to today’s video launch, OL’s Maritime Committee is partnering with New Brunswick’s Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) Program to host an ATV-train mock collision in McAdam, N.B. The mock-collision aims to show local students and members of the media what can happen when all-terrain vehicle riders trespass on railway property.

ATV riders wishing to learn more about how to stay safe around railway tracks and trains are encouraged to view OL’s VR video, and to consult OL’s tip sheet.

Operation Lifesaver wishes to thank OL’s Maritime Provincial Committee, the New Brunswick Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) Program, New Brunswick Southern Railway, Horizon Health Network,  Ambulance New Brunswick, J.D. Irving Limited, the McAdam Fire Department, New Brunswick’s Coroner Services, New Brunswick’s Department of Justice and Public Safety, the McAdam Historical Restoration Commission, New Brunswick’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the New Brunswick All Terrain Vehicle Federation, the Central Ontario ATV Club, Metrolinx, and the student volunteers from McAdam and Harvey High Schools for making its VR video and mock-collision event possible.

About Operation Lifesaver
Operation Lifesaver is a national public rail-safety program sponsored by Transport Canada, the Railway Association of Canada and its members, including CN, CP, VIA Rail, RTM, Metrolinx and Genesee & Wyoming, among others. Through partnerships with safety councils, police, the trucking industry and community groups, Operation Lifesaver works to save lives by educating Canadians about the hazards of rail crossings and trespassing on railway property.