Operation Lifesaver Reminds New Drivers to “Train to Drive” – Don’t let inexperience get in the way of safety

OTTAWA, May 4, 2011 – With high school proms in full force and summer soon approaching Operation Lifesaver, the nation's dedicated not-for-profit organization focused on preventing accidents associated with train collisions with motor vehicles and trespassing on rail property, is reaching out to new drivers and particularly the 14-24 age groups across Canada to make sure inexperience doesn’t get in the way of safety. “Train to Drive,” an online safety education site for new drivers available at www.traintodrive.net, makes it easy for newly-licensed Canadians to learn the best way to approach highway/railway crossings and rail safety in just a matter of minutes. The interactive and informative program complements current driver training and takes just minutes to complete. “Canada has over 37,000 rail crossings and over more than 1,100 active trains every day which transport over 70-million passengers and 75 per cent of all surface freight in the country annually,” says Dan Di, Tota National Director of Operation Lifesaver in Canada. “Newly licensed drivers are faced with many distractions and stresses as they build their experience at the wheel. Learning to the heed warning signs at the approach of highway/railway crossings is crucial and Operation Lifesaver makes it easy to learn how with Train to Drive.” There were nearly 200 highway/railway crossing collisions in Canada in 2010 causing unnecessary loss of life and injury with 24 fatalities and 28 serious injuries. 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. “While we have had a good amount of success in attracting young drivers to the Train to Drive site, the great majority of these have been from Ontario where, perhaps not surprisingly, a province which has a lower percentage rate of crossing accidents than its population and large numbers of rail crossings would warrant,” continued Di Tota. “Other provinces must step up their efforts to educate their newly-licensed drivers on highway/railway crossing safety.” Since its inception in Canada in 1981, Operation Lifesaver has helped reduce highway/railway crossing collisions by 75 per cent, and recorded 54 per cent declines in trespassing incidents. It is co-sponsored by Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada, in cooperation with other safety organizations, police and public service groups. The Government of Canada has pledged over $900 million of investment towards strengthening Canada's national passenger rail service in 2007 and in 2010 invested an additional $11 million to upgrade 155 high-priority, rail-grade crossings across the country. Operation Lifesaver developed Train to Drive in consultation with the transportation industries, and those involved in new-driver training. The program that complements current driver training through video clips, sound, and railway safety information specifically targeted at the newly-licensed driver. Once students have gone through the information, they can take a railway safety quiz. If they score 80 per cent or more, students can print a Certificate of Completion for their driver training instructors. The entire program is available on the “Train to Drive” website, at www.traintodrive.net. Rail Safety Week from May 2 through May 8.

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 of Canada. 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 more information please contact: Rob Mclean Media Relations, Operation Lifesaver 613-721-6959 robm@operationlifesaver.ca Dan Di Tota National Director, Operation Lifesaver 613-564-8094 dand@railcan.ca Paul Goyette Railway Association of Canada 613-564-8097 www.railcan.ca