There is no doubt about it, driving during the winter months can be difficult—and downright dangerous. Freezing rain, snow, sleet and whiteouts all make getting from point A to point B safely a challenge. In fact, almost 30 per cent of car accidents in Canada happen on snowy or icy roads.
Reducing your likelihood of being in a serious car accident in winter starts with proper planning, especially when it comes to staying safe around railway crossings.
"Icy roads, reduced visibility and storms are a potentially dangerous combination. We encourage people to drive safely and use caution around railway crossings," says CN’s Chief of Police and Chief Security Officer Stephen Covey.
Winter driving rail safety tips
Vehicle-train collisions can be deadly. But they can also be prevented. Here are some tips to ensure you keep safe when encountering train tracks this winter:
Plan ahead. Check the weather forecast before travelling—not only for your current location, but also for your final destination. If conditions deteriorate while you're on the road, stop at the nearest town or rest area and wait until it's safe to continue driving.
Reduce your speed. When road conditions are poor, it takes longer to stop, especially when driving at night. Always slow down well in advance of a railway crossing. The more time you have to react, the better chance you have of avoiding a collision.
Avoid distractions. When approaching railway crossings, turn off the radio and heating fans so you can listen for trains. Reduced visibility and sounds from a storm might also make it more difficult to determine if a train is coming. Roll down your window—especially if it’s frosty or foggy—and look both ways before crossing the tracks.
Look for railway warning signs and signals. Snow may cover train tracks at a crossing, making them look like the road. Look for warning signs and other indications that there is a railway crossing ahead so you can prepare to stop.
Use winter tires. They have treads designed to grip ice and snow, so you'll be less likely to slide on the road or into the side of a train. All-season tires can begin to lose their traction when the temperature drops below 7°C.
Know your rail safety rules. Test your skills by taking our rail safety quiz.
Remember, rail safety is everyone’s responsibility. So be rail-smart this winter: Look, listen and live.