Driving near railway crossings
Know what to watch out for at railway crossings and when you must stop.
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Warning signs and markings
In Ontario, all railway crossings on public roads are clearly marked with signs. There may also be:
- a large “X” on the pavement
- flashing signal lights
- gates or barriers
On private roads, the crossings may:
- use different types of signs such as stop signs
- not be marked at all
Do not cross unmarked or unauthorized railway crossings. Only ones that are properly marked and meant for crossing.
Crossing railway tracks
As you come to a railway crossing, slow down, listen and look both ways before crossing the tracks. You should be certain that you can clear the tracks completely before crossing.
When a train is coming
Never race a train to the crossing. Follow these steps to cross safely:
- Slow down.
- Stop at least five metres from the nearest rail or gate.
- If there are signals, wait until they stop flashing before you start driving. If the crossing has a barrier, wait until it fully rises.
- Make sure there is no second train approaching in either direction after the first.
- Only cross the track when you're sure the train has passed.
It is illegal and dangerous to drive around, under or through a railway barrier or gate while it is down, being lowered or being raised.
- Be ready to stop behind buses. Most buses are required to stop at railway crossings that don't have gates, barriers or lights. School buses must stop at all railway crossings.
- If traffic is heavy, make sure you have enough space for your entire vehicle on the other side of the tracks before proceeding across.
- Avoid shifting gears on railway tracks because your vehicle could stall and put you or others in danger.
- Never stop on the tracks.
- Know the length of your vehicle and load overhang to make sure there is enough space to safely cross the tracks.
- Avoid crossings where low-slung units can get stuck on raised crossings.
- Always cross at right angles to the rails.
- Obey the same railway crossing laws as drivers.
Read more about how to stop at a railway crossing in the Official Driver’s Handbook.
If you get stuck on a crossing
- Get out of the vehicle immediately.
- Quickly move away from the train track to a safe location. You need to be at least 30 metres away to avoid being struck by flying debris if a train hits the vehicle. It takes up to two kilometres for a train to stop even using full emergency braking.
- Contact the police. They will help you remove the vehicle from the tracks.
If you fail to stop at a railway crossing, you can face:
- $110 fine ($150 in community safety zones)
- 3 demerit points