Snowmobile virtual-reality video aims to reduce collisions between trains and winter off-road vehicles

February 22, 2018

OTTAWA — 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.

Operation Lifesaver (OL) today unveiled a new snowmobile-focused virtual-reality (VR) video to raise awareness about how to prevent collisions between trains and winter off-road vehicles. The video immerses viewers in a 3D environment, and gives them the shocking – and hopefully unforgettable – experience of being in a collision with a train. The video is the latest addition to the Look. Listen. Live. campaign first launched by OL last April.

“We produced this video because we heard concerns from our railway partners that snowmobilers were sometimes using railway tracks and rights-of-way as trails — which is both illegal and extremely dangerous — or that they weren’t approaching crossings with sufficient caution,” said Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada.

“Snowmobiles can easily become lodged in railway tracks when drivers try to cross the tracks where no crossing exists. These vehicles also tend to have loud engines, and can kick up a lot off snow – and when you’re wearing a helmet, that can mask the sight and 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 off-road vehicles, as the TSB doesn’t publish data on the types of vehicles implicated in rail-related incidents.  

In addition to the video launch, OL’s Saskatchewan Committee today is hosting a snowmobile-train mock collision in Yorkton, Sask. to show members of the media and government officials what can happen when off-road vehicle operators don’t exercise caution at railway crossings. The re-enactment will be used to train local emergency responders, and to assess how multiple agencies respond to a rail-related incident.

Operation Lifesaver wishes to thank Metrolinx, York-Durham Heritage Railway, Peter Mohyla (Metrolinx), Sgt. Karen Hodge (York Regional Police), Melissa Brabant (Ministry of Transportation of Ontario), and Troy Fleury and Chris Adamson (snowmobilers) for their assistance in the production of its new Look. Listen. Live. snowmobile VR video. The Yorkton mock-collision is being put on in partnership with CN, CP, CN Police, CP Police, the City of Yorkton, Yorkton Fire Protective Services, Crestvue Ambulance Service, Yorkton RCMP, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, Saskatchewan Public Safety, FFun Motor Sports and the Yorkton Sno-Riders.

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.