Train safety tips for skateboarders - and everyone else

Yesterday on the Operation Lifesaver Canada Twitter page, Christien (@christien89) asked us how skateboarders should behave when they encounter a level crossing. Christien also asked about the dangers of throwing objects at trains. These are both excellent questions and you'll find the answers to them below. In addition, we thought this would be a great time to review some of the most important rail safe behaviours that apply to:

  • Pedestrians
  • Skateboarders
  • Wheelchair users 
  • People pushing strollers
  • Children

Train safety tips for everyone

Pedestrians must obey crossing laws just as drivers do and must yield the right-of-way at highway- railway crossings. Whether on foot or in a vehicle, the only place you should ever cross railway tracks is at an authorized and properly marked crossing.

Never try to beat a train to a crossing or cross the tracks in front of a train. Trains cannot stop quickly and cannot swerve to avoid hitting you.

As you approach a crossing:

  • Stop no closer than five metres from the nearest rail of the railway track.
  • Look both ways along the railway track for an oncoming train.
  • If a train is approaching, wait for the train to pass.
  • Before you proceed, make sure that another train is not approaching the crossing on another track in the same or opposite direction.
  • When crossing a track, do not step on the rail. It is a smooth metal surface and you could easily slip. Always step across each rail to where the footing is more stable. Watch for loose rock and debris.
  • Never throw objects at trains. You may injure the passengers or crew on board. There is also the danger that objects thrown at a train will bounce off and come flying back, injuring anyone else nearby.
  • Never place objects on the tracks. It is not only illegal but also dangerous. Trains can derail, causing death and serious injury.
  • Do not use any audio device, such as a portable radio, MP3 player or cellular phone, as you approach a crossing. It will interfere with your ability to hear an approaching train. Take the time to Stop, Look and Listen.

Train safety tips for parents and caregivers

Parents and caregivers need to teach children where and how to cross railway tracks safely.

  • Identify authorized crossings, underpasses or overpasses in your neighbourhood for children to use.
  • Teach children that the safety rules for a railway crossing are similar to those for crossing the street. 
  • Stop no closer than five metres from the nearest rail of the railway track, look both ways and listen for an approaching train.
  • Children should never run across the tracks.
  • For more rail safety information for kids, please visit the OL Kids site or check out Operation Lifesaver's Train Safety Resources for Kids.

Train safety tips for skateboarders, wheelchairs users, people pushing strollers and others

Wheelchair users, people pushing strollers, children on sidewalk bicycles and others using items with small or swivel wheels must use extra caution at railway crossings.

  • Small wheels can get stuck in the groove designed for the railway train’s wheels. This groove is called the flange-way. 
  • If possible, items with small or swivel wheels should be lifted across the flange-way; if this is not possible, they should cross only at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Skateboarders, always get off your skateboard and carry it across the tracks. 

For even more rail safety tips, including descriptions of the warning signs and devices at highway-railway crossings, download our Public-Rail Safety Guide