Railway Safety: From Farm To Field And Home Again

WINDSOR - If you live on a farm near a railway then you can relate to the risk of a crossing collision, trespassing incident or a "near hit" involving a train. Because they happen all too often, farm and rail safety organizations have teamed up to do something about the problem.

This year's farm safety theme, unveiled today at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's semi-annual meeting in Windsor, ON, focuses on farm machinery and motor vehicles on public roads. As a safety reminder to farmers to look and listen for trains at highway/railway crossing intersections, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA), Operation Lifesaver and Direction 2006 partners have produced a pamphlet and tip sheet for broad distribution.

"We have an important message for Canadian farmers," says Bob Friesen, CFA president. "If an incident is predictable, then it's preventable. We know the primary causes of farm-related railway incidents, so we're working to prevent them."

There are more then 45,000 kilometers of railway track in Canada and much of it runs through farmland. Each year, an average of 300 collisions occur at highway/railway grade crossings that result in the death of approximately 40 people and serious injury to another 45. One in seven of the collisions occurs at private or farm crossings.

Trespassing is another killer. On average, 60 are killed and another 25 seriously injured while trespassing on railway property. "Some people still don't realize that railway trespassing is a criminal offense punishable by a fine and/or jail," says Dan Di Tota, national director of Operation Lifesaver and co-chair of Education for Direction 2006.

"But the greater deterrent should be personal safety," he said. "Trains can give the impression that they are farther away and traveling more slowly than they really are. If your perception of the train's speed or distance tricks you - you're dead!"

Many farmers live near railways and they sometimes develop a complacency that can be deadly," says Canadian Agricultural Safety Association chair Cathy Vanstone. "We need to keep farm-related railway safety fresh in our minds, particularly now during the cropping season when farmers are on the roads most frequently.

" For more information and a downloadable version of the pamphlet, please visit the CFA web site at www.cfa-fca.ca. Additional information on saving lives along Canada's railways is available from Direction 2006 at www.Direction2006.com or Operation Lifesaver at www.operationlifesaver.ca or call (613) 564-8100 to schedule a safety presentation.

Contact Information:

Theresa Whalen-Ruiter
CFA Farm Safety Coordinator
(613) 731-7321

Roger Cameron
Railway Association of Canada
(613) 564-8097

Dan Di Tota
National Director, Operation Lifesaver
(613) 564-8094