Hit the trails on your ATV, but stay clear of tracks

The coronavirus has changed our lives in many ways. Not just how we work, or how we learn, but also how we “play.” More and more Canadians are spending time in the great outdoors as a source of distraction—and many are doing it on all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. In fact, ATV sales have climbed steadily since mid-March when the pandemic started.

There is no question that zooming along muddy paths, up and down hills, and around corners on four wheels is a fun way to get out into the wilderness. But whether you’re new to the sport, or a seasoned rider, staying safe while riding an ATV means knowing and abiding by certain rules, especially around railway tracks and property.

ATVs and trains can be a deadly combination
Unfortunately, not all drivers exercise caution—and the consequences can be deadly. 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 men were driving on a public road when their ATV hit the train. In November 2011, another man was killed near Parry Sound, Ontario when his ATV became stuck on the tracks. He and a passenger were trying to get the vehicle off the tracks when he was hit and killed by the train.

At Operation Lifesaver (OL) Canada, we want to prevent tragedies like these from happening by ensuring that ATV riders understand just how quickly and silently a train can approach. 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 train.

“Our message to ATVers is simple: go off road, but stay off railway tracks and property,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada. “Trains often carry cargo that is much wider than the tracks, and can seriously injure or kill a rider alongside it. ATVs also tend to have loud engines—and when you’re wearing a helmet, that can mask the sound of an oncoming train.”

Don’t be a rail incident statistic! Whether you’re riding an ATV on farmland, in the backwoods or on designated trails, if you come across tracks don’t ride alongside side them and only cross them at designated crossings. And check out OL’s tip sheet for off-road vehicle operators to learn more about how to stay safe around railway tracks and trains.