New Survey Indicates Canadians Often See Drivers Taking Risks At Highway/Railway Crossings

The 3rd Annual Road Safety Monitor
Taking the pulse of the nation on highway/railway crossing safety
Canadians often see drivers taking risks at highway/railway crossings

Ottawa – Canadians say they often see some very dangerous behaviour at highway/railway crossings, such as driving across the tracks when the signal lights are flashing, or driving around the highway/railway crossing barriers. Ninety percent of Canadian drivers agree that automatic flashing lights and/or barriers should be installed at all highway/railway crossings that service high-speed trains. These are some of the findings in the third annual Road Safety Monitor, released today by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF).

The Highway/Railway Crossing Safety report, the first of three reports from the third annual Road Safety Monitor, examines attitudes, perceptions, and practices related to a wide range of highway/railway-related driving behaviours.

Findings include:

Although drivers in the survey do not seem overly concerned about the status of highway/railway crossing safety in Canada, over a quarter are very concerned about the safety of highway/railway crossings in their communities, and many voiced substantial concern about specific issues -- for example, 40% say they are very or extremely concerned about drivers not looking for trains at crossings;

Concern about highway/railway crossing safety is greater in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces than in the rest of Canada;

Canadians also say they see some very dangerous behaviours at highway/railway crossings. For example, 11% say they often or very often see drivers crossing the tracks when the signal lights are flashing; six percent say they frequently see drivers going around the protective barriers;

Such risky behaviours are reported most often in Quebec and least often in British Columbia; and

Although drivers generally believe that highway/railway crossings in Canada are safe, they also believe that more needs to be done to improve safety. Forty-two percent agree that more highway/railway crossings should be replaced with overpasses or underpasses, and a surprising 48% say that all vehicles should be required to stop at all highway/railway crossings.

“There were 261 collisions at highway and railway crossings in Canada last year," says TIRF President and CEO, Herb Simpson. "As a result, 46 Canadians died and another 42 were seriously injured. In that context, it is disturbing to note that only 17% of survey respondents believe highway/railway crossing safety is a serious problem. While this may mean Canadians believe that improvements over the past several years have made crossings safer, we hope Canadians haven’t become complacent about the dangers."

Through its Road Safety Monitor, TIRF measures changes in opinions, gauges improvements and identifies emerging problems related to the driving habits and road safety practices of Canadians. TIRF is committed to making the roads a safer place across Canada.

"The Road Safety Monitor provides a useful snapshot of driver attitudes toward highway/railway crossing safety," says W. A. Rowat, President and CEO of The Railway Association of Canada. "We hope it will help policy makers take further action to improve highway/railway crossings and further reduce the incidence of death and injury in Canada. We have made progress, but more can be done."

More than 1,200 drivers were surveyed by telephone in May 2003 on a number of road safety issues. The primary sponsors of the third annual Road Safety Monitor are Transport Canada, the Brewers of Canada, and The Railway Association of Canada; the secondary sponsor is Toyota Canada Inc.; additional support comes from the Canada Safety Council.

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation

Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. TIRF designs, promotes and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. TIRF is headquartered in Ottawa.

Contact Information:

Barbara Koppe
Manager, Marketing and Communications
Telephone: 613-238-5235
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