Operation Lifesaver Launches Public-Rail Safety Week – Identifies Rising Accidents and Fatalities as Serious Issue for Canadians

  • For the first three months of 2012, in year-over-year (YoY) comparison, accidents increased 25 per cent, serious injuries increased 88 per cent, and fatalities increased 20 per cent
  • Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia see marked rise in incidents
  • Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Northwest Territories remain unchanged with very low incident rates
  • Saskatchewan and Alberta see general declines in crossing accidents yet increase in fatalities

OTTAWA, April 30, 2012 – Operation Lifesaver, the nation's dedicated non-profit organization focused on preventing accidents associated with train collisions with motor vehicles and trespassing on rail property, today launched the 10th annual Public-Rail Safety Week (PRSW) across Canada. PRSW runs nationally from Monday April 30th to Sunday May 6th with a focus on disseminating rail safety best practices and on empowering Canadians to take personal responsibility for their safety on or near rail property.

PRSW brings together Operation Lifesaver partners and volunteers in hundreds of community-level events and activities - such as crossing blitzes, mock collisions, public service announcements, and presentations to schools, youth clubs, drivers associations and community groups - to raise awareness of the importance of rail safety.

While rail transportation is the safest of all ground transportation modes, illegal trespassing on rail property and negligence at railway crossings results in unnecessary and preventable tragedies each year.

This year's PRSW efforts are more critical than ever as recent statistics compiled by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report accidents, serious injuries and fatalities for the first quarter of 2012 are above those reported for the same period last year and higher than the five-year average.

In the first quarter, YoY accidents increased nationally from 59 to 74, serious injuries increased from 9 to 17 and fatalities increased from 14 to 17.

The rise in incidents were not evenly distributed across the nation. In the first three months of 2012, YoY comparison of provincial data shows:

  • British Columbia – accidents increased from 5 to 14, serious injuries remained unchanged at one, and fatalities increased from 0 to 5.
  • Ontario – accidents increased from 15 to 22, serious injuries increased from 3 to 8, and fatalities declined from 7 to 5.
  • Manitoba – accidents increased from 3 to 8, serious injuries increased from 1 to 2, and fatalities declined from 3 to 1.
  • Alberta – accidents decreased from 18 to 14, serious injuries increased from 2 to 5, and fatalities increased from 1 to 3. Of note, while crossing accidents declined from 18 to 11, trespasser accidents increased from no incidents in 2011 to three in 2012.
  • Saskatchewan – accidents decreased from 12 to 9, serious injuries decreased from 2 to 1, and fatalities increased 1 to 2.
  • Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Northwest Territories cumulatively reported no serious injuries, one fatality (in New Brunswick) and seven accidents (four of which occurred in Quebec)

"Last year had the lowest incident rates on record and continued the trend of reducing crossing collisions and trespasser incidents, which have declined by over 79 per cent since Operation Lifesaver's inception 30 year ago," said Dan Di Tota, National Director of Operation Lifesaver. "This year's marked increase in incidents presents a troubling break in that trend that we believe must be stopped in its tracks. During Public-Rail Safety Week we are calling on all Canadians to take rail safety seriously, get involved and to educate themselves and others on best practices that we know help save lives.  We must all contribute to ensuring that the statistics that marked the first quarter of this year do not carry through the remainder of 2012."  

While Canada is a rail-nation with over 37,000 rail crossings and approximately 1,100 active trains operating each day transporting more than 70 per cent of Canada's surface goods annual, Operation Lifesaver believes that the nation's crossing and trespasser accidents should ideally be zero as such incidents are almost always preventable. Operation Lifesaver's motto of 'Look, Listen and Live' and library of digital and print safety materials created for the public embody the belief that the best way to prevent tragedy is for Canadians to be aware and informed of rail safety.

Through its partners and volunteers, Operation Lifesaver is active in communities all across Canada and gives over 500 rail safety presentations annually. During Rail Safety Week organizations and the public-at-large are encouraged to attend PRSW events in their community and to consult Operation Lifesaver's free safety resources, which include:

  • A new series of posters titled "These Tracks are for Trains" which highlight the dangers of wearing ear buds, walking, cross-country skiing, riding ATVs or motorbikes on or near rail property available at http://www.operationlifesaver.ca/resources/
  • An interactive site for kids, www.olkids.ca, which includes safety pamphlets, Rover the Railway Rabbit cartoons and stories, interactive videos and online activity books
  • Safety brochures for specific audiences, including parents, teachers, school bus and truck drivers, commuters, cyclists, emergency responders, and snow mobile and all terrain vehicle drivers available at www.operationlifesaver.ca
  • An interactive, online safety education site for new drivers available at www.traintodrive.net
  • Safety-related updates on Twitter (www.twitter.com/oplifesaver) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/oplifesaver)

For a listing of events across Canada please visit  http://www.operationlifesaver.ca/events/ol-public-rail-safety-week-2012/

About Operation Lifesaver

Established in Canada in 1981, Operation Lifesaver is a national public-rail safety program sponsored by Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada. Through partnerships with provincial safety councils, police, railways, the trucking industry and community groups, Operation Lifesaver is dedicated to saving lives by educating Canadians about the hazards surrounding highway/railway crossings and trespassing on railway property.


For more information please contact:

Rob Mclean
Media Relations, Operation Lifesaver

Dan Di Tota
National Director, Operation Lifesaver

Paul Goyette
Railway Association of Canada