Only trains should be on railroad tracks

Most people live near a railroad crossing or tracks. It’s a reminder that before we had cars and airplanes, our most impressive mode of transportation, outside of horses, was by rail.

Yet sometimes we remain challenged in dealing with trains in our lives.

People persist in walking on tracks or taking all-terrain vehicles on those routes despite the risks. Or they speed their cars through crossings, even when weather conditions warrant taking time to make sure it’s safe.

“Icy roads, reduced visibility and storms are a potentially dangerous combination and we encourage people to drive safely and use caution around railway crossings,” said Stephen Covey, chief of police and chief security officer at Canadian National Railway. “And for snowmobile operators, their first responsibility must be safety. Railway tracks should never be used as a trail. Riding on or along railway tracks can cost you your life.”

That means if you go out on a snowmobile or an ATV this season, don’t assume railroad tracks are safe routes.

Snowmobiles should only cross tracks at designated crossings. Trespassing on railway tracks or property — by snowmobiles, cross-country skiers, snowshoers or others — is illegal and dangerous.

Five other important rail safety tips for the winter season:

— Drivers might need more room to come to a complete stop at crossings;

— Realize reduced visibility and sounds from a storm might make it more difficult to see or hear a train coming;

— Railroads and their adjacent right of way are not a safe place to snowshoe, cross-country ski or ride a snowmobile;

— If snowshoeing or skiing near a designated crossing, don’t wear headphones and be aware of your surroundings;

— Railroads are never a safe shortcut to get anywhere.

For information about rail safety, contact CN’s Public Inquiry Line by calling 1-888-888-5909.