Operation Lifesaver's Rail Safety Week is launched

Operation Lifesaver's Rail Safety Week was launched yesterday in more than 200 municipalities across Canada. The national campaign promotes safe decisions around highway-railway crossings and freight and passenger train operations. It is sponsored by Transport Canada, the nation's railways and their partners. Crossing collisions dropped to 214 in 2008 from 221 the year earlier. Trespass incidents were down to 73 last year from 101 in 2007. Crossing fatalities, 73, were unchanged year over year but trespass fatalities dropped from 57 in 2007 to 47 last year. Serious injuries at crossings increased from 22 in 2007 to 36 last year but serious injuries from trespassing dropped from 27 the year prior to 20 in 2008. Dan Di Tota, National Director of Operation Lifesaver, said virtually all the incidents can be prevented with care and attention. "The life you save could be your own," he said. As part of the Rail Safety Week activities, Operation Lifesaver announced that a Hamilton man, Tom Allan, has been selected as the organization's 2009 Roger Cyr Award winner. The award is presented annually to individuals who reduce highway-railway crossing collisions and trespass incidents. Allan, an Operation Lifesaver volunteer presenter since October of 2004, was knighted into the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem in 2007 for some 40 years of service and around 25,000 hours of volunteer work. He was St. John Ambulance's chief training officer for Canada and retired as CN's Manager of First Aid and Safety. The Rail Safety Week also includes mock collisions, interactive kiosks, websites for kids, driver education classes for new motorists, safety blitzes and trespass enforcement initiatives at several locations across the country. Among the activities planned GO Transit will host Rail & Road Safety Day, welcoming over 400 grade 3 and 4 students to learn safety lessons in an interactive way. Students from across the GTA will spend the day at Union Station participating in 13 educational stations hosted by members of the Toronto Area Safety Coalition. GO is also holding a customer contest on its website highlighting the importance of rail safety. Correct entries will be eligible to win one of three GO monthly passes. CP Police officers from Montreal to Vancouver will conduct more than 100 safety and enforcement blitzes in communities across Canada, including Mission, BC, on Saturday. "Awareness helps prevent tragic consequences from occurring and creates a safer situation for everybody," said CP Police Sgt. Steve Gregoris. "During Rail Safety Week, officers across our system have the opportunity to further educate the public to deter the risk-taking behaviour, through enforcement activities." The CP Police will be set up May 2 at the London Avenue crossing in Mission conducting a traffic enforcement blitz. Meanwhile, CN Police kicked off their Rail Safety Week activities yesterday in Prince George, BC, with safety blitz operations at the city's major crossings. CN Police will conduct safety blitz operations throughout the week at railway crossings and commuter stations in about 180 locations across Canada and the US. For more information on National Rail Safety Public Awareness Week, visit Operation Lifesaver's website at www.operationlifesaver.ca. (Canada Newswire, Mission City Record 090427, Canada Newswire, Prince George Citizen BC, Brantford Expositor ON 090428)