Getting Alberta drivers to slow down

Drivers in three Alberta communities may notice some new roadside fixtures along their routes: electronic speed signs. The signs are part of a new safety initiative launched by CN and funded through the Alberta Office of Traffic Safety to make motorists more aware of how fast they’re travelling as they approach railway crossings.
The speed signs—installed in Spruce Grove, Saint Albert and Adrossan—will display the speed cars are travelling. They will also allow CN police to gather data about driver behaviour at the crossings. The overall goal is simple: get motorists to slow down when approaching railway crossings.
“We know that in previous collisions between trains and cars, speed was definitely a contributing factor,” explains Constable Dean Solowan, a community service officer with the CN police in Alberta. “If you’re going really fast, you obviously need more time to slow down and come to a stop. Your peripheral vision also becomes narrower and is not as broad as it would be if you were travelling at a slower speed.”
Although CN chose the three locations randomly, Solowan says the Saint Albert crossing is of particular concern because people often travel across the track at a high speed.
“It’s an open area, just off the side of residential housing. So, people can accelerate quite rapidly and continually for a period of time before they actually go over the track,” he says. “People travel fast when a road is straight. Hopefully the new speed signs will provide a bit of a deterrent.”
The signs are mounted on cement bases weighing 8,000 pounds (or more than 3,600 kilograms). Although they will remain in their current locations for the next few months, CN’s plan is to eventually move them to other rights-of-way along its 4,186 km of track in the province.
“Our intention is for the signs to rotate through communities that we find either have more incidents or where we realize that we have a problem with people speeding—or just where we want to create general awareness of speed in the community,” says Solowan. “Hopefully, this will reduce traffic incidents in general, not just around the railway tracks.”