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Stopping at railway crossing

All railway crossings on public roads in Ontario are marked with large red and white “X” signs. Watch for these signs and be prepared to stop. You may also see yellow advance warning signs and large “X” pavement markings ahead of railway crossings. Some railway crossings have flashing signal lights and some use gates or barriers to keep drivers from crossing the tracks when a train is coming. Some less-travelled crossings have stop signs posted. On private roads, railway crossings may not be marked, so watch carefully. When you come to a railway crossing, remember the following:

Diagram showing how to stop at railway crossings
  • Slow down, listen and look both ways to make sure the way is clear before crossing the tracks.
  • It can take up to two kilometres for a train to stop under full emergency braking.
  • If a train is coming, stop at least five metres from the nearest rail or gate. Do not cross the track until you are sure the train or trains have passed.
  • Never race a train to a crossing.
  • If there are signal lights, wait until they stop flashing and, if the crossing has a gate or barrier, wait until it rises before you cross the tracks.
  • Never drive around, under or through a railway gate or barrier while it is down, being lowered or being raised. It is illegal and dangerous.
  • Avoid stopping in the middle of railway tracks. Make sure you have enough room to cross the tracks completely before you begin to cross.
  • Avoid shifting gears while crossing tracks.
  • If you get trapped on a crossing, immediately leave your vehicle and move to a safe place, then contact authorities.
  • Buses and other public vehicles are required to stop at railway crossings that are not protected by gates, signal lights or a stop sign. School buses must stop at railway crossings whether or not they are protected by gates or signal lights. Watch for these vehicles, and be prepared to stop behind them.
  • If you are approaching a railway crossing with a stop sign, you must stop unless otherwise directed by a flagman.

It is usually not necessary to change your path when crossing railway tracks that run across (perpendicular to) the road. Be prepared for a bump and avoid braking or turning while on the tracks. Railway and streetcar tracks are extremely slippery.

When you want to cross railroad or streetcar tracks that run parallel to your path, cross at a distinct angle (no less than 45 degrees) to prevent getting stuck in the tracks or losing control. Do not try to edge across the tracks or brake heavily. Do the same thing when crossing other uneven surfaces such as a pavement seams or a gravel shoulder.

Diagram showing how to stop at railway crossings