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Stopping at Railway Crossings

Railways Crossings

Photo of railway crossing sign

Railways Crossings

Photo of railway crossing sign with lights and gate

Photo of empty vehicle stalled on tracks

Photo of railway crossing sign with flashing lights

Where road and rail meet

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 also may see yellow advance warning signs, which indicate the number of sets of tracks at the crossing. Pavement markings of a large "X" may also be seen at approaches to railway crossings.

Railway crossing safety tips

  • As you come to a crossing, slow down, listen and look both ways before crossing the tracks.
  • 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 the crossing.Do not cross the track until you are sure the train or trains have passed. If there are signals, wait until they stop flashing and, if the crossing has a barrier, wait until it rises before you cross.Never drive around, under or through a railway gate while it is down or is being lowered or raised.Avoid driving onto a railway crossing. Never stop on the tracks.
  • Avoid shifting gears on a railway crossing. If you get trapped on a crossing, immediately get out of the vehicle and move quickly from the track and vehicle to a safe location. Contact the police.
It can take up to two kilometres for a train to stop, under full emergency braking.

Crossing the tracks

As you come to a crossing, slow down, listen and look both ways before crossing the tracks. Motorists can misjudge the speed of a train, thinking it is travelling more slowly than it actually is. Never race a train to the crossing. If a train is coming, stop at least five metres from the nearest rail. After a train has passed, proceed only after you have checked in both directions for the approach of a second train. On private roads, crossings may not be marked, or may be marked by non-standard signs. Be alert.

Signalized railway crossings

In addition to the railway crossing signs, some crossings have flashing signal lights and/or gates or barriers to keep motorists from crossing the tracks when a train is coming. The same rule applies at these crossings - stop at least five metres from the nearest rail. Do no cross until the signals stop flashing and, if the crossing has a barrier, wait until it completely rises before you cross.

Barriers down. Never go around!

It is illegal to drive around, under or through a railway barrier/gate while it is down or is being lowered or raised. It is also dangerous. You can be fined for failing to stop at a railway crossing, $110 upon conviction and receive three demerit points on your driving record.

$110.00 ($90 + $20 victim surcharge plus 3 demerit points)

Never get trapped on the tracks

Be careful, especially in heavy traffic not to drive onto a railway crossing and have to stop on the tracks. Always make sure you can clear the tracks completely before you start to cross. Avoid shifting gears on a railway crossing. Shift down to a lower gear before crossing, and change gears only after crossing the tracks.

If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out of the vehicle and move quickly to a safe location at least 30 metres away to avoid being struck by flying debris if a train hits the vehicle. If possible, contact police or the railway company when such a situation occurs. Some crossings have railway emergency numbers prominently displayed.

Buses and public vehicles

Buses and other public vehicles are required to stop at railway crossings that do not have automatic warning devices, such as barriers or signal lights. School buses must stop at all railway crossings whether or not they have signals or barriers. As a motorist, be prepared to stop behind these vehicles.

Commercial vehicle drivers

Be familiar with railway crossings on your route. Avoid crossings where low-slung units can get stuck on raised crossings. Know the length of your vehicle and load overhang in relation to space available to safely clear a crossing on the other side.

Pedestrians and cyclists

Pedestrians, cyclists and users of other wheeled mobility devices must obey railway crossing laws just as motorists. The only place you may cross is at an authorized and properly marked railway crossing. Look both ways when approaching the track(s). Never try to beat an approaching train. Stop at least five metres from the nearest rail. Never go around, under or through a railway gate while it is down or is being lowered or raised. Wait for the train(s) to pass. Look both ways to be sure the way is clear before crossing. If you're a pedestrian, avoid stepping onto the rail while crossing, as it can be slippery. When cycling, always cross the tracks at right angles to the rails.

Road Safety. It starts with you.




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