Why are there more grade crossing accidents in Canada during the winter than the rest of the year?

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Skanska awarded $96 million contract for grade separation project.
Operation Lifesaver, Inc.

Winter in Canada sees more rail/highway grade crossing accidents during the winter than during any other season of the year.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is launching Safety Issue Investigation R20H0082 into the factors leading to an increase in the rate of railway crossing accidents during winter months in Canada.

Every year, approximately 23 people are killed and another 28 seriously injured at railway crossings in Canada. In 2019, 29% of crossing accidents resulted in fatalities or serious injuries, making them one of the deadliest types of rail accidents. The TSB has identified a seasonal pattern in level crossing accidents involving motor vehicles, where during the winter months, the average rate of accidents increases by about 61%.

The goal of the safety issue investigation (SII) is to compare the factors contributing to level crossing accidents that happen in non-vacation winter months (January and February) with those contributing to accidents that take place in non-vacation non-winter months (May, June, and September). A secondary objective is to learn more about other factors contributing to accidents at level crossings, whether the factors be human, environmental, crossing or roadway related. Drivers and eyewitnesses to recent accidents at level crossings will be interviewed by TSB investigators so that firsthand accounts can be documented. Those accounts, as well as data from other sources, will be compiled and compared statistically to identify and better understand the underlying causal factors to these occurrences. Results of the SII will be published in a final TSB investigation report.

An SII (also known as a class 1 investigation) analyzes a series of occurrences with common characteristics that have formed a pattern over a period of time. SIIs, which may include recommendations, are generally completed within two years. For more information, see the TSB Policy on Occurrence Classification.

See the investigation page for more information.

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