View a picture that illustrates why pitting a car against a train is never a good idea

Check out this shocking image, taken Monday morning in the Greater Toronto Area. A car has taken a wrong turn, right onto railway tracks and into the path of an oncoming commuter train. The car’s driver is lucky - the train had likely not reached maximum speed after leaving its last station and was able to stop just in time.  Most drivers in this situation are not as lucky. Commuter trains can reach speeds of 140 kilometers an hour or more, and at that speed it can take over two kilometers to come to a complete stop. Bottom line: Don’t test your luck - when you pit a car against a train, the car always loses. Driver Reminders for Avoiding Car-Train Collisions This photo serves as a real-life reminder to drivers of the dangers of ignoring railway warning signs and signals. It’s probable that the driver in the photo turned onto the tracks at a railway crossing – completely ignoring the warning signs and signals and putting themselves in danger. This situation could have been a lot worse, but nonetheless, was completely avoidable through driver care and attention, says Dan Di Tota, National Director for Operation Lifesaver. “Drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and know when they’re approaching train tracks. There are enough signs to remind them of that. They need to ensure they don’t put themselves in harm’s way. In this case, they did just that but were very fortunate. The outcome could have been tragic.” Di Tota offers the following reminders to help drivers avoid tragedy on the tracks:
  • Don’t be complacent: Pay attention to your surroundings - don’t make turns unless you’re certain of where they lead.
  • Be watching: Look for signs like the crossbuck, as well as warning lights and gates. Even if the gates are up and the lights are not flashing, they’re still indicating that there are tracks there, so you have to be cautious and aware. Be particularly aware of the advanced warning sign that’s telling you that you’re approaching train tracks.
  • Take extra caution in winter: You may not be able to see railway tracks because trains don’t need the tracks cleared like roads - they travel on top of snow and push it aside – so it’s extra important to look for warning signs and signals during winter.  The road may also be slippery so be extra cautious and give yourself extra stopping distance to avoid sliding onto the tracks.
Di Tota says that car-train collisions will no longer occur if drivers follow these recommendations. “This kind of thing doesn’t need to happen. Just be more aware, be more alert. Be careful out there.” For more tips on how to be safe at highway-railway crossings, check out Operation Lifesaver’s Public Rail Safety Guide.