Keeping mobility device users safe year-round
Navigating the ice, slush, and snow on streets can make getting around difficult. But winter can pose an added challenge for Canadians who depend on mobility devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters—especially if their route takes them across railway tracks.
Railway tracks can be slippery in wet or snowy conditions. The wheels of mobility devices can also get stuck if users don’t cross tracks at a 90-degree angle—and that can lead to tragedy. Last month, a man who was reportedly using a wheelchair was hit and killed by a train while crossing some tracks south of Ottawa.
But tragic incidents involving mobility device users don’t just happen in the winter months. In May 2018, a man in a wheelchair was hit and killed by a train in Chilliwack, B.C. when his tires became stuck in the tracks. 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 signal crossing lights were flashing, the bell was sounding, and the train blew its whistle, but it was unable to avoid hitting the man.
Use caution around tracks to avoid tragedies
If you use a wheeled mobility device, please follow these tips to ensure you stay safe:
- Only use designated railway crossings, where the tracks are most level with the ground. You could get stuck or fall trying to cross tracks at any other place.
- Stop, look both ways, and listen for approaching trains at crossings. Proceed only if you’re sure it is safe to do so.
- Plan your crossing. Establish your position so you can cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle, or as close to it as possible.
- Proceed with caution. Tracks can be slippery, especially when wet, and the wheels of your mobility device could skid if you cross too fast or don’t cross at a right angle. If possible, have someone accompany you if you need to cross railway tracks.
- Get help if you get stuck. If your mobility device breaks down or gets stuck in a railway crossing, you need to get away from the tracks immediately. Ask passing pedestrians, cyclists, or motorists to help get you out of your mobility device and moved to safe distance away from the tracks.
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