Make sure your next off-road adventure is a safe one

If you are an outdoors enthusiast, November is the perfect time to jump on your ATV and explore. But if your off-road adventure takes you near railway tracks or property, following the rail-safety rules is critical to avoid tragedies.

At Operation Lifesaver (OL) Canada, we want to prevent incidents between ATV riders and trains. One of the ways we’re doing that is through our Look. Listen. Live. ATV video. The virtual-reality video immerses viewers in a 3D environment, and gives them the shocking—and hopefully unforgettable—experience of being hit by a virtual train.

“Our message to ATVers is simple: go off road, but stay off railway tracks and rights of way,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada. “Trains are faster and quieter than you might expect, and often carry cargo that is much wider than the tracks. They can seriously injure or kill anyone riding alongside them in a split-second.”

Sticking to the rules is the only safe option
Unfortunately, not all ATV drivers exercise caution when near tracks. In August 2011, two men in their early 20s were killed when the ATV they were riding struck the side of a moving train in Drummond, New Brunswick. The young men were driving on a public road when their ATV hit the train.

Whether you’re riding an ATV on a road, in the backwoods, or on designated trails, following these simple rail safety rules—in addition to wearing a helmet—can ensure you stay safe:
  • Always use approved trails—riding an ATV on or beside railway tracks is both illegal and extremely dangerous.
  • Only cross tracks at designated rail crossings. When approaching a crossing, slow down, look both ways and listen for approaching trains. Proceed only if you’re sure it’s safe to do so.
  • Always cross tracks at a 90-degree angle, or as close to it as possible.
  • Abandon your ATV if breaks down on railway tracks and move at least 30 metres away. Contact the railway company immediately and let them know there’s vehicle on the tracks.

Don’t be a rail incident statistic! Check out OL’s tip sheet for off-road vehicle operators to learn more about how to stay safe around railway tracks and trains.