Operation Lifesaver, the nation’s dedicated non-profit organization focused on preventing accidents associated with train collisions with motor vehicles and trespassing on rail property during the annual Public-Rail Safety Week (PRSW) across Canada, from April 30th to May 6th. The focus was on disseminating rail safety’s best practices and on empowering Canadians to take personal responsibility for their safety on or near rail property.
PRSW brought together Operation Lifesaver partners and volunteers in hundreds of community-level events and activities – such as crossing blitzes, mock collisions, public service announcements, and presentations to schools, youth clubs, drivers associations and community groups – to raise awareness of the importance of rail safety.
While rail transportation is the safest of all ground transportation modes, illegal trespassing on rail property and negligence at railway crossings results in unnecessary and preventable tragedies each year.
This year’s PRSW efforts are more critical than ever as recent statistics compiled by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report accidents, serious injuries and fatalities for the first quarter of 2012 are above those reported for the same period last year and higher than the five-year average.
In the first quarter, accidents increased nationally from 59 to 74, serious injuries increased from nine to 17 and fatalities increased from 14 to 17. The rise in incidents were not evenly distributed across the nation, but stats show in the first three months of 2012 B.C. accidents increased from five to 14, serious injuries remained unchanged at one, and fatalities increased from zero to five.
“Last year had the lowest incident rates on record and continued the trend of reducing crossing collisions and trespasser incidents, which have declined by over 79 per cent since Operation Lifesaver’s inception 30 year ago,” said Dan Di Tota, National Director of Operation Lifesaver. “This year’s marked increase in incidents presents a troubling break in that trend that we believe must be stopped in its tracks. We are calling on all Canadians to take rail safety seriously, get involved and to educate themselves and others on best practices that we know help save lives. We must all contribute to ensuring that the statistics that marked the first quarter of this year do not carry through the remainder of 2012.”