Operation Lifesaver, the nation's dedicated non-profit organization focused on preventing accidents associated with train collisions with motor vehicles and trespassing on rail property, is calling on all Canadians to participate in Rail Safety Week from May 2 through May 8.
During Rail Safety Week, Operation Lifesaver is asking parents, youth, teachers, emergency response providers, and motorists to take a moment to learn about the basic rail-safety information that could one day save their life.
Since 1980 the number of crossing collisions (where a train and motor vehicle collide) in Canada has fallen dramatically from over 800 annually to approximately 200 in 2010. While this reduction speaks to the success of safety efforts undertaken in that time, there still remains unnecessary loss of life and injury with 79 fatalities and 47 serious injuries occurring in 2010 as a result of crossing collisions and trespassing on rail property.
"People may think that because they rarely see a train on their local tracks or because trains are large, noisy and appear not to be moving very fast that there is little real danger. Yet it's not uncommon for trains to travel at speeds greater than 100 km/h and it is a sobering thought that nearly every other day in Canada someone is fatally or seriously injured as a result of being on the tracks when a train is in motion," said Dan Di Tota, National Director of Operation Lifesaver. "Safety knowledge is the key to saving lives. Not knowing what crossing signs mean, trespassing on rail property, trying to judge the speed of an incoming train, or failing to leave room from other cars at crossings are just a few safety mistakes that can lead to tragic events."
"Rail Safety Week is a collective national effort to inform Canadians of all ages of the safety measures they should be aware of when encountering trains and rail crossings."
Operation Lifesaver makes it easy for Canadians to learn about rail safety in just a matter of minutes. The organization has developed a wide variety of interactive educational materials available for free to the public, including:
- An interactive site for kids, www.olkids.ca, which includes safety pamphlets, Rover the Railway Rabbit cartoons and stories, interactive videos and online activity books
- Safety brochures for specific audiences, including parents, teachers, school bus and truck drivers, commuters, cyclists, emergency responders, and snow mobile and all terrain vehicle drivers available at www.operationlifesaver.ca
- An interactive, online safety education site for new drivers available at www.traintodrive.net
- Safety-related updates on Twitter (www.twitter.com/oplifesaver) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/oplifesaver)
During Rail Safety Week, Operation Lifesaver will also engage in a number of local events and activities across Canada, including crossing blitzes, mock collision scenarios, public service announcements and presentations by volunteers to schools, youth clubs, drivers associations and community groups. For a listing of events across Canada please visit http://www.operationlifesaver.ca/events/ol-rsw-2011/
Rail safety extends beyond trespassing and crossings and includes the risks associated with activities such as hopping trains. Sean Fowler, a 23-year-old resident of Fort Erie, Ontario, lost both an arm and leg and barely escaped with his life when at the age of 16 he attempted to hop a train in a rush to get home. Sean's story can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/OperationLifesaverCA
The Growing Role of Rail Transport in Canada
The rail transport industry has been an essential part of Canada's heritage and continues to be of growing importance to the nation's economic and transportation needs. Today, Canada has over 37,000 rail crossings and over 1,100 active trains each day that transport over 70-million passengers and 75 per cent of Canada's surface freight annually. In addition, since 2007 the Government of Canada has pledged over $900 million of investment towards strengthening Canada's national passenger rail service and in 2010 invested an additional $11 million to upgrade 155 high-priority, rail-grade crossings across the country.
As Canada's population grows and rail transport increases to accommodate both freight and commuter needs it is essential that public awareness of rail safety increase as well to reduce future fatality and injury incidents. Operation Lifesaver gives over 1,000 rail safety presentations every year and calls on all Canadians to be engaged in rail safety by learning the safety facts that will keep them out of harm's way.
About Operation Lifesaver
Established in Canada in 1981, Operation Lifesaver is a national public-rail safety program sponsored by Transport Canada and the Railway Association ofCanada. Through partnerships with provincial safety councils, police, railways, the trucking industry and community groups, Operation Lifesaver is dedicated to saving lives by educating Canadians about the hazards surrounding highway/railway crossings and trespassing on railway property. www.operationlifesaver.ca
For further information:
Dan Di Tota
Railway Association of Canada