OTTAWA – Fatalities and serious injuries at highway/ rail crossings in Canada declined significantly during the first quarter this year compared with 2005 results. But the number of trespassers killed and injured is virtually unchanged.
In the first three months of 2006, there were nine fatalities and nine serious injuries at crossings, down from 11 fatalities and 22 serious injuries during the same period in 2005. Those killed while trespassing on railway property increased by one to 16 over the last three months, and those who survived but were seriously injured was up one to three during the same period.
“Part of the tragedy is that almost every one of them could have been prevented with due care and attention,” said Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. “We encourage the public to make good choices at railway crossings and stay off railway rights-of-way.”
An annual special effort to raise public awareness of the risks of trying to race a train to a crossing or taking a short-cut across the tracks, Rail Safety Week, will be launched April 24, said Dan Di Tota, national director of Operation Lifesaver (OL). Industry, government and community groups have planned and will complete more than 160 public safety events and initiatives across the country during the week.
A new, on-going initiative by OL and Key Clubs in Eastern Canada, announced recently, will be delivered by OL partners and Key Club teenagers in 42 high schools and other secondary and junior high schools in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Some of the teenagers knew students killed last year so the issues involved them and their communities directly.
OL is a national safety program, co-sponsored by Transport Canada, the Railway Association of Canada and partners in police, communities, other organizations and industries across the country, and marks its 25th anniversary this year.
Operation Lifesaver has helped reduce crossing collisions and trespasser incidents by some 60 per cent since its introduction to Canada in 1981, even though highway and railway traffic, and the population, have all increased significantly during that time. There were 102 rail-related fatalities in 2005 and 72 serious injuries.
The week will include numerous safety blitzes, local events and activities across Canada, broadcast of radio and television public service announcements, Operation Lifesaver presentations by volunteers in schools, mall displays, media interviews, conferences and speeches to community groups. The City of Moose Jaw, Sask. proclaimed it Operation Lifesaver Safety Week.
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Railway Association of Canada
Dan Di Tota