Attention Farmers: Make Rail Safety a Priority this Summer

For most of us, summer is a time to relax. But while many Canadians are enjoying the lazy days of summer, Canadian farmers are working hard producing the foods we eat and the other agricultural products we rely on. In fact, July and August are often the busiest months of the year on a farm.

There are more than 200,000 farms across Canada, and many are adjacent to or near railway tracks. So it’s essential for farmers to follow the rail-safety rules when driving machinery near tracks.

“It’s crucial to be aware and use caution where field and farmyard access roads cross train tracks, because farm crossings are largely passive. That means there are no warning lights, bells, gates or signs that indicate crossings,” says Robert Gobeil, the Canadian Agriculture Safety Association’s agricultural health and safety specialist. “Farm machinery operators need to remain alert and use caution around these crossings—it could save your machinery and, more importantly, you!”
Take the time to be rail-safe
People driving farm machinery, such as tractors and combines, should always take the time to stop at farm crossings. Anyone who uses farm crossings should also keep the following rail-safety tips in mind to stay safe:
  • Because of their size, trains appear to be much farther away and travelling much more slowly than they actually are.
  • When approaching a crossing, stop at least 5 metres from the nearest tracks. Allow extra distance for front-mounted buckets and chemical tanks on farm tractors.
  • While stopped, look carefully in both directions for approaching trains. Before crossing, make sure there is enough room on the other side to fully clear the tracks.
  • Make sure any towed equipment doesn’t become unhitched while crossing. Watch that no loaded materials become dislodged and fall onto the train tracks. 
Take extra care when driving larger machinery
Many rural roads and farm crossings weren’t built to accommodate the larger machines being used on fields today. This machinery can be tricky to maneouvre—especially over railway tracks. When driving larger farm machinery, remember:
  • Before attempting a farm crossing for the first time, make sure heavier and wider equipment can be safely moved over the crossing.
  • Don’t attempt a crossing with low-slung equipment that can become lodged on “humped” crossings.
  • If you get stuck on the tracks, get out of the vehicle immediately. Check the signposts or signal housing for emergency notification information or call 911. If you frequently use a farm crossing, have the location information and railway contact/emergency numbers on hand.
Check out Operation Lifesaver’s website for more rail safety tips. Read them. Share them. Learn them. They could save your life.