Canadian National (CN) Police Service is encouraging drivers to stay safe when facing challenging road conditions through the coming winter.
"Freezing rain, snow, sleet and whiteouts can make winter driving downright dangerous," stated CN Police in a press release. "In fact, according to the Transportation Safety Board, there’s a spike in railway crossing incidents during the winter months."
According to the release, this increase can be attributed to a number of factors, like ice and snow making it more difficult for motorists to manoeuvre their vehicles, snowy roads hiding pavement markings, reduced visibility caused by blowing snow, fog and sleet, and sight lines impacted by snowbanks and snowy trees.
"Reducing the likelihood of being in a serious car accident in winter starts with proper planning and knowing your rail-safety basics," the release stated.
Drivers are recommended to follow a few simple tips to stay safe when encountering train tracks while behind the wheel this winter:
Plan ahead and check the weather forecast before travelling – not only for your current location, but also for your final destination. If conditions deteriorate while you're on the road, stop at the nearest town or rest area and wait until it's safe to continue driving.
Reduce your speed when road conditions are poor, as it takes longer to stop. Always slow down well in advance of a railway crossing. The more time you have to react, the better chance you have of avoiding a collision.
Avoid distractions when approaching railway crossings – turn off your radio and heating fans so you can listen for trains. Reduced visibility and sounds from a storm can make it more difficult to see and hear if a train is coming. Roll down your window, especially if it’s frosty or foggy, and look both ways before crossing the tracks.
Check for railway warning signs and signals, as snow may cover train tracks at a crossing, making them look like the road. Look for warning signs and other indications that there is a railway crossing ahead so you can prepare to stop, especially when driving at night.
Use winter tires with treads designed to grip ice and snow, so you will be less likely to slide on the road or into the side of a train. All-season tires can begin to lose their traction when the temperature drops below 7°C.
Don’t drive impaired. Alcohol and drugs such as marijuana reduce your ability to pay attention, react quickly and make safe driving choices.
According to the release, "any time is train time." Motorists should keep these tips in mind before hitting the road this winter to ensure they are being "rail-smart" and avoiding collisions.