Operation Lifesaver Kicks Off Public-Rail Safety Week: A Shared Responsibility

OTTAWA, (April 29, 2013) – Operation Lifesaver (OL), Canada’s national public-rail safety program, today launched the 11th annual Public-Rail Safety Week (PRSW), a nationwide initiative aimed at raising awareness among Canadians of the safety implications around railway lines. Various safety and policing measures have been put in place by railways to prevent collisions involving trains and motor vehicles at rail crossings and stop trespassing on rail property.

PRSW 2013 runs from April 29 to May 5 under the theme of A Shared Responsibility, emphasizing that Canadians play an important role in rail safety. During PRSW, OL partners and volunteers promote the importance of rail safety by engaging in dozens of community-level events and local activities including school presentations, crossing blitzes and mock collisions.

“With crossing and trespassing incidents up in Canada last year, the need to raise awareness around the issue has never been greater,” said Mike Regimbal, national director of Operation Lifesaver.

“This year’s theme, ‘A shared responsibility,’ means that preventing needless occurrences is a joint effort. Public-Rail Safety Week is the biggest of the many initiatives put forth by the rail industry throughout the year to promote rail safety and if the public learns about best practices, there’s no reason why we can’t avoid these incidents.”

According to polling conducted by Leger Marketing for the Railway Association of Canada in March 2012, the vast majority (83 per cent) of Canadians perceive railway transportation, including freight and passenger transportation, as the safest means of transportation and best for society overall compared to trucks, buses and cars.

While these positive results reflect the rail sector’s enviable safety record, crossing and trespassing incidents across the country are on the rise. In 2012, there were 261 railway crossing and trespasser accidents in Canada, including 78 fatalities and 53 serious injuries. Year-over-year, accidents increased by 10 per cent, fatalities by 11 per cent and serious injuries by 23 per cent. Moreover, the rates of fatalities and serious injuries were both higher than the five-year average from 2007 to 2011.

Western Canada, particularly the Prairie Provinces, remains a cause for concern. Fatalities in the Prairies more than tripled from 2011; crossing and trespassing accidents jumped by 90 and 200 per cent respectively and serious injuries also spiked. Conversely, incidents in British Columbia declined or held steady across nearly all categories.

Rail statistics are compiled monthly by the Transportation Safety Board.

In Ontario, there was very little change in accidents, fatalities and serious injuries, year-over-year. Quebec and the Maritimes had the best record, as all types of incidents either declined or remained unchanged in 2012.

There are some 37,000 public, private and pedestrian highway/railway crossings in Canada and most collisions occur within 40 km of the person’s home.

Operation Lifesaver spreads its motto of “Look, Listen and Live” through its many year-long initiatives that complement PRSW, including interactive kids websites, online new and professional driver education modules, and social media outreach on Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, OL’s network of volunteers conducts more than 500 rail safety presentations and activities across Canada each year.

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.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/operationlifesaver
Twitter: @oplifesaver

For more information, please contact:

Alex Paterson
Railway Association of Canada

Mike Regimbal
National Director
Operation Lifesaver

Paul Goyette
Railway Association of Canada