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Use extra caution at rail crossings this long weekend

MILTON, Ont. -- With the arrival of the July 1 long weekend, Sandra Campbell of Residents Affected by Intermodal Li...

MILTON, Ont. — With the arrival of the July 1 long weekend, Sandra Campbell of Residents Affected by Intermodal Lines (RAIL) is urging everyone to be extra cautious at rail crossings.

Summer long weekend travel results in more vehicles on our roads, she says. This travel creates heavier traffic with more cars and trucks crossing railway tracks.

“There were 279 crossing accidents across Canada in 2001, crossing accidents resulted in 41 fatalities and 47 serious injuries in 2001,” says Campbell. “In comparison to 2000, fatalities have increased 24 per cent and crossing accidents increased five per cent.”

The railways rely on the locomotive whistle, and lights and crossing arms at level crossings to alert motorists and pedestrians of an on coming train.

Sometimes the warning devices at level crossings are faulty, the group adds. Therefore, it is important to make sure that not only the train you’re waiting for has cleared, but make sure that there is not another train coming. The 1999 crash of Amtrak’s City of New Orleans train, in which 11 people were killed and more than 122 injured, is a perfect example of how active warning devices don’t always provide a fail-safe system.

Another example is the GoTrain crash earlier this month in Concord killing five people, the Go Train hit a minivan that skidded through the safety gates and stopped on the tracks.

Drivers are more likely to die in a collision involving a train than any other type of traffic accident. That is because a train can’t swerve or stop suddenly. And the relative weight of a locomotive to a passenger car is 4,000 to one, “which means that a train hitting a car is like a car hitting a soft drink can.”

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