Recently in Saskatchewan, a truck was struck by a train at a rail crossing. Thankfully, no one was injured, but there was significant damage to the trailer, the cargo, and the train. The specifics of what caused the collision are unknown, but there are a few things we would like to address to help prevent these types of collisions, because even as big and heavy as a loaded truck is, we are no match for a train.

When approaching a rail crossing, always look both ways before you start to cross the tracks. Don’t trust the warning lights, bells, and crossing arms. They can and do occasionally malfunction. Even if you use the same crossing multiple times a day, or even once or twice every day, and have never seen a train, treat it like there is a train coming. Some commuter trains run on a schedule, but most freight trains don’t, so any time could be train time.

Never, under any circumstances, enter a crossing unless you know for a fact that you can make it across without stopping. Never EVER stop on the tracks. There are two crossings in Sault Ste. Marie that have traffic lights just beyond the tracks. There is not enough room for a truck to fit between the crossroad and the tracks, so unless you can make the left turn at the lights, do not start across the tracks in anticipation of making your turn. One thing to watch for with crossings like this is a car passing you on the right, cutting in front of you then stopping when the light changes to amber, forcing you to stop on the crossing. Watch out for this, and if you see a car coming up on your right, stop before the crossing. Far better to wait through a light cycle than risk being hit by a train.

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.