Lesson Plans by grade level
When it comes to rail safety, it’s never too early to start teaching the basics. Operation Lifesaver, funded by Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada, has put together an easy-to-use Rail Safety Toolkit for teachers.
For age-appropriate resources including PowerPoint presentations, activities and videos, or to arrange for a guest speaker to come to your classroom to teach rail safety to your students, visit the Operation Lifesaver website.
Train and track
(Junior and primary grade level)
Your life can change in an Instant
(intermediate and secondary level)
What are Some Basics of Railway Safety?
Crossing the tracks
As you come to a crossing, slow down, listen and look both ways before crossing. Motorists can misjudge the speed of a train, so 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.
All railway crossings on public roads in Ontario are marked with large red and white “X” signs, or pavement markings. Watch for these signs and be prepared to stop. You also may see yellow advance-warning signs, which indicate the number of tracks at the crossing.
Be alert and be careful: It can take up to two kilometres for a train to stop.
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 not cross until the signals stop flashing and, if the crossing has a barrier, wait until it completely rises before you cross.
Railway crossing safety tips for pedestrians and cyclists
- Pedestrians and cyclists (as well as in-line skaters, skateboarders and scooter users, etc.) must obey railway crossing laws just like motorists.
- You can only cross at an authorized, properly marked railway crossing.
- Look both ways when approaching the track(s).
- Never try to race through a crossing before 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 and then look both ways before crossing.
- If you’re a pedestrian, avoid stepping onto the rail while crossing, as it can be slippery.
- When cycling, dismount and walk your bike across the tracks.
Railway crossing safety tips for drivers
- 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(s) has passed. If there are signals, wait until they stop flashing. If the crossing has a barrier, wait until it rises before you cross.
- Never drive around, under or through a railway gate while it’s down or is being lowered or raised.
- Never stop on the tracks.
- Avoid shifting gears on a railway crossing, as you may get stuck. If you get trapped on a crossing, get out of the vehicle immediately and quickly move away from the track and vehicle to a safe location. Then contact the police.