Marking International Level Crossing Awareness Day on June 9th

There are some 32,000 level crossings across Canada. And since trains travel directly across roads at these crossings, they can be especially hazardous for vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, and those using mobility devices.
International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD) is a worldwide initiative aimed at improving awareness of level crossing safety. The annual ILCAD campaign takes place in 50 countries around the globe—including Canada. This year’s event (held on June 9th) is dedicated to ensuring that vulnerable citizens around the world have the tools they need to safely navigate these crossings.
Preventing incidents involving our most vulnerable citizens
Level crossings can be particularly risky for those using mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters, as the wheels of these devices can get stuck in the rails if users don’t cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle. In July 2018, an elderly man using a mobility device was killed by a train at a railway crossing in Camrose, Alta. Witnesses say the crossing lights were flashing, the warning bell was sounding, and the train blew its whistle, but it was unable to avoid hitting the man.

Young children are also at greater risk because they don’t always understand the signs and signals at level crossings, or how to act when they see them—and this can lead to tragedies. In October 2018, a six-year-old girl was struck and killed by a commuter train in Calgary when she wandered across the tracks. The girl got confused and ran back in front of the train when the crossing’s bells and lights went off.
Since cognitive impairments such as dementia can affect perception and judgement, elderly people with these conditions can also making unsafe decisions around level crossings. In February 2014, a man with dementia in White Rock, B.C. was hit and seriously injured by a train after he wandered away from his care facility and onto railway tracks. Although the train engineer sounded the train’s whistle, the elderly man continued to walk toward the train.

Providing all Canadians with the tools they need to stay safe
At Operation Lifesaver, we are working to find ways to ensure all Canadians are aware of the risks around level crossings—including our most vulnerable citizens. Through our “Look. Listen. Live.” Community Safety Partnership Program, we’re encouraging municipalities to install “Look. Listen. Live.” decals on the pavement or sidewalk near railway crossings. These black and yellow decals are a visible reminder for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers of the hazards associated with level railway crossings. We also have a wealth of rail safety resources on our website, including a tip sheet for mobility device users, activity sheets for children, and graphics to educate Canadians about what railway signs and warning devices mean—and how to act when they see them.
So this International Level Crossing Awareness Day, why not brush up on your rail safety knowledge and become a Rail Safety Ambassador in your community? You can start by sharing ILCAD’s messages on social media. Everyone has a role to play in keeping their communities — particularly vulnerable people — safe from incidents at level crossings. Together, we can #STOPTrackTragedies.