Virtually, all incidents involving winter recreation vehicles and trains can be avoided says Operation Lifesaver's (OL) Canadian arm, which released a new video campaign addressing the subject.
OL Canada says the snowmobile-focused virtual-reality video raises awareness about how to prevent collisions between trains and winter off-road vehicles. The shock value is high in the video, which immerses viewers in a 3D environment where they are treated to a snowmobile-driver’s point of view of the last seconds of a ride before approaching a crossing where the ride ends in what OL Canada hopes is an unforgettable collision with a train. The video is the latest addition to the Look. Listen. Live. campaign first launched by OL Canada last April.
“We produced this video because we heard concerns from our railway partners that snowmobilers were sometimes using railway tracks and rights-of-way as trails — which is both illegal and extremely dangerous — or that they weren’t approaching crossings with sufficient caution,” said Sarah Mayes, national director of Operation Lifesaver Canada.
She continued, “Snowmobiles can easily become lodged in railway tracks when drivers try to cross the tracks where no crossing exists. These vehicles also tend to have loud engines, and can kick up a lot off snow – and when you’re wearing a helmet, that can mask the sight and sound of an oncoming train.”
According to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada, in 2017, there were 222 rail-related crossing and trespassing incidents in Canada, which killed 72 people and seriously injured another 44. OL Canada says it’s unclear how many of these incidents involved off-road vehicles, as the TSB doesn’t publish data on the types of vehicles implicated in rail-related incidents.
In addition to the video launch, OL’s Saskatchewan Committee hosted a snowmobile-train mock collision in Yorkton, Sask. to show members of the media and government officials what can happen when off-road vehicle operators don’t exercise caution at railway crossings. The re-enactment will be used to train local emergency responders, and to assess how multiple agencies respond to a rail-related incident.