Starting the 2023-24 school year off right

"rail safety", "back to school"

For many students, a new school year also means a new school—and if it’s close to railway tracks, they need to know how to keep themselves safe. That’s why Operation Lifesaver is reminding Canadians to take the time to teach the kids in their lives how to be rail-safe when walking to and from school.

“Whether they’re starting first grade or first year university, young Canadians need to know some key things, such as what railway signs and signals are telling them to do, and how dangerous it is to trespass on railway tracks and property,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada. “Taking the time to ensure young people know how to get safely to and from school could save their lives.”

Education is the key to preventing tragedies

If children don’t learn how to act safely around railway tracks, it can have tragic consequences—something Samantha Lefebvre knows all too well.

When the Brockville, Ont. woman was just 12 years old, she and her best friend were hit by a freight train at a rail crossing. The two girls were walking home from school when they were involved in a “second train” incident. Although they’d seen a first train pass, the girls didn’t realize that a second train was coming from the other direction until it was too late. Samantha was hit on her right side and was partially paralyzed. Tragically, her friend was killed in the incident.

“I had to cross those train tracks to and from school every day,” explains Samantha. “To be honest, at that age, I don't really think I paid too much attention to how dangerous train tracks were…until my accident happened.”

Samantha’s tragic story is featured in OL’s #STOPTrackTragedies campaign. The video shows just how devastating the consequences can be when children don’t understand the rail safety rules.

Brush up on the rail safety basics

So, let’s make this year’s return to school a happy, healthy, and safe one.  Before children walk to school alone, practice the route, pointing out any dangers that might exist. And make sure kids also know these other important rail safety rules:

  • Never play on or near railway tracks or trains
  • Cross tracks only at designated railway crossings
  • Always stop, look in both directions, and listen for trains before crossing tracks at railway crossings
  • Never throw things at trains or place things on railway tracks
  • Stay off your phone and avoid distractions when around tracks and trains
  • Obey all railway signs and signals
  • Never use tracks as a shortcut

For other resources to help you and your loved ones stay rail-safe this school year, check out OL’s website.