Rail-safety rules of the road keep you from becoming a summer memory

Are you heading on a summer vacation with your family or friends? Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. Make sure that you follow these rules of the road around the tracks so that you bring home a great summer memory rather than becoming one.


  • Watch for the signs – Every railway crossing has at least one sign and some also have advance warning signs, road markings, flashing lights or gates. Pay attention to all of the signs and know what they mean.
  • Know where to stop – If there are road markings, stop at the line. If not, be sure to stop at least 5 metres from the nearest rail (1 average-sized car length) but no more than 15 metres (about the length of a city bus) so that you can still see down the tracks in both directions.
  • Know when it’s safe to go – It’s only safe to proceed when there is no train on the tracks and any crossing signals are inactive. It takes a train going 100 kilometres per hour up to 2 kilometres to come to a full stop. And it can’t swerve to miss you if you’re on the tracks.
  • Don’t race the train – It isn’t worth the risk. No matter how much you’re in a hurry—and you shouldn’t be when you’re on summer vacation!—keep your life and your limbs intact. Wait for the train to pass.
  • Remember the second track – Don’t proceed unless you can see that both tracks are clear in both directions. Crossing after the last car has passed may mean that you drive into the side or path of another train.
  • If you don’t fit, don’t commit – If there isn’t enough room for you to completely clear the tracks, don’t cross. And that doesn’t mean that you can just barely make it across—your vehicle needs to be at least 5 metres away from the nearest track. Remember that trains overhang the rails. Even if you’re not directly on the tracks, you could still get hit. 
  • If you get stalled on the tracks - Immediately get everyone out of the vehicle and away from the tracks so that you don’t get hit by debris if a train comes. When you’re safely away from the vehicle, call the police or the emergency number posted at the crossing. Never go back to your vehicle for anything. It can be replaced. You can’t.
  • Don’t zone out – Minimize distractions like music, conversation, phones, and maps when you’re approaching a crossing. You need to be able to look and listen for trains. Everything else can wait.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be rail safe on the road this summer? Take the Operation Lifesaver driver quiz (PDF). Rail safety knowledge may be one of the most important things you pack for your trip. Get hit by a train and you won’t have a vacation  at all.