Getting the rail-safety message out to farmers

Summer is a busy time on a farm. Whether it’s cutting hay, harvesting wheat, or picking fruit, there’s work to be done from sun up, to sun down. But it isn’t just the hours that are tough. Farmers also need to navigate many potential risks every day, including railway crossings.

One of the challenges farmers often face is “passive” rail crossings. These crossings don’t have gates, lights, or bells to warn of approaching trains, so farmers need to be extra vigilant when using these crossings to avoid serious injury, or even death.
In July 2020, a 62-year-old farmer driving a tractor loaded with hay collided with a train just north of Tillsonburg, Ont. Although the tractor driver sustained non-life threatening injuries, he was charged with disobeying a railway crossing sign. In April 2014, a 15-year-old boy from Chilliwack, B.C. was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after he was hit by a train while driving a tractor. Another teen had been riding on the tractor at the time, but was able to jump off before the collision.

Knowing the rail safety rules is the key to preventing tragedies

Farmers are one of the key groups that Operation Lifesaver (OL) tries to reach with its rail-safety message. In fact, one of our Train to Drive virtual-reality (VR) videos is designed specifically to teach the agricultural community how to stay safe around tracks and trains. The interactive training video tests whether farmers and other agricultural workers know how to safely approach railway crossings and respond to life-threatening situations such as a vehicle stalling on the tracks.

“Collisions at railway crossings can happen in a split second. We want to remind farmers to follow the rail safety rules when driving farm machinery near tracks, and we encourage them to talk about rail safety with their families and those who visit and work on their farms,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada.
So if you’re a farmer or an agricultural worker, head to OL’s website and put your rail safety knowledge to the test with our Train to Drive program. You’ll also find other helpful resources on our website such as a tip sheet for agricultural workers. It only takes a few minutes to ensure you know the rail safety rules, but it could save your life.