Stay safe this holiday season. Know your winter driving basics.

No matter where you live in Canada, chances are you’ll face some challenging driving in the months ahead. Freezing rain, snow, sleet and whiteouts can make winter driving downright dangerous.

In fact, according to the Transportation Safety Board, there’s a spike in railway crossing incidents during the winter months. This is due to many factors, including: 

·      Ice and snow making it harder for drivers to stop and manoeuvre their vehicles;

·      Snowy roads that hide pavement markings;

·      Blowing snow, fog, and sleet that reduce visibility;

·      Snowbanks and snow in trees reducing sight lines; and

·      Increased alcohol consumption around the holiday season.

Preventing vehicle-train collisions starts with knowing your rail-safety basics

Reducing the likelihood of being in a serious car accident in winter starts with proper planning, especially when it comes to staying safe around railway crossings. Following these simple tips can help keep you safe when you encounter train tracks this winter:

Plan ahead. Check the weather forecast before travelling—not only for your current location, but also for your final destination. If conditions deteriorate while you're on the road, stop at the nearest town or rest area and wait until it's safe to continue driving.

Reduce your speed. When road conditions are poor, it takes longer to stop. Always slow down well in advance of a railway crossing. The more time you have to react, the better chance you have of avoiding a collision.

Avoid distractions. When approaching railway crossings, turn off your radio and heating fans so you can listen for trains. Reduced visibility and sounds from a storm can make it more difficult to see and hear if a train is coming. Roll down your window—especially if it’s frosty or foggy—and look both ways before crossing the tracks.

Look for railway warning signs and signals. Snow may cover train tracks at a crossing, making them look like the road. Look for warning signs and other indications that there is a railway crossing ahead so you can prepare to stop, especially when driving at night. 

Use winter tires. They have treads designed to grip ice and snow, so you'll be less likely to slide on the road or into the side of a train. All-season tires can begin to lose their traction when the temperature drops below 7°C.

Don’t drive impaired. Alcohol and drugs such as marijuana reduce your ability to pay attention, react quickly and make safe driving choices.

Know your rail safety rules. Test your skills by taking our rail safety quiz.

Be rail-smart this winter: Look. Listen. Live.