No harvest is worth your life: new VR-based driver-training video gets farmers behind the “wheel” to test their rail-safety knowledge

August 31, 2020

Ottawa — Picture this: it’s early morning on your farm. You load your harvest into your truck and head to the local grain elevator. As you turn off the highway, you approach a rail crossing. Do you stop? You’re in a rush, and the back end of your truck is blocking highway traffic. You can hear the distant horn of an approaching train — but you can also hear honks from fellow drivers. Should you risk it and just cross?

Whether you’re a new driver or a seasoned one, keeping yourself safe around railway tracks is about staying alert and knowing the rules. Today, Operation Lifesaver Canada — a national not-for-profit dedicated to rail safety — unveiled a new Train to Drive virtual-reality (VR) video designed specifically for the agricultural community. The interactive video tests whether farmers and other agricultural workers know how to safely approach railway crossings and respond in situations like the one just described.

“Collisions at railway crossings can happen in a split second. Train to Drive allows drivers to make choices in real time around virtual railway tracks and trains, and to see the results — good and tragic — in the safety of that VR environment,” said Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada. 

Collisions at road-rail crossings are tragically common in Canada. In 2019, there were 174 such incidents which killed 28 people and seriously injured another 29.

“Our hope is that farmers, agricultural workers, driver-training companies, and even governments will use this program, and that OL’s "Look. Listen. Live." rail safety message will resonate with drivers — new and experienced.”

The Train to Drive program includes several different training videos aimed at new and inexperienced drivers as well as professional bus and truck drivers. You can experience Train to Drive yourself by visiting and clicking the video link. The website also provides instructions on how to view the videos on other devices such as mobile phones or Oculus Go, and offers rail safety tips to use next time you’re behind a real wheel.

Now get in the driver's seat and put your rail safety knowledge to the test!