Canadian Not-for-Profit Organization Offers VR-Based Driver Training to Prevent Railway Track Accidents

Operation Lifesaver

As technological advancements are creating modern cities with well-planned roads and highways, all over the world, there still remain numerous railroad crossings. In the United States, there were about 155,370 railroad crossings in 2000. According to an estimate by Angels on Track, railroad crossing accidents caused 249 deaths and 954 serious injuries in 2013.

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Many railroad crossing accidents happen because drivers simply do not know the rules around railroad tracks. Operation Lifesaver, a not-for-profit in Canada unveiled its new Train to Drive program, featuring virtual-reality (VR) videos designed to test whether drivers know how to safely approach railway crossings and respond in life-or-death situations.

“Collisions at railway crossings can happen in a split second. Train to Drive allows drivers to make choices in real time around virtual railway tracks and trains, and to see the results — good and tragic — in the safety of that VR environment,” said Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada.

Collisions at road-rail crossings are tragically common in Canada. In 2018, there were 167 such incidents which killed 19 people and seriously injured another 42, said a press release.

Railroad crossing safety

“Our hope is that individuals, driver training companies, school boards and even governments will use this program, and that OL’s ‘Look. Listen. Live.’ rail safety message will resonate with drivers — new and experienced.”

Right now, the Train to Drive program includes two different training scenarios aimed at all drivers. In the first, the weather is clear, but the “driver” has to contend with congested traffic near a railway crossing. The second video features nighttime conditions, poor weather and in-vehicle distractions. Operation Lifesaver plans to expand the Train to Drive program in 2019 to include new training scenarios designed specifically for bus and truck drivers.

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Anyone wishing to experience Train to Drive can do so by visiting TraintoDrive.ca. The website also provides instructions on how to view the videos on other devices such as mobile phones or tethered headsets, and offers rail safety tips to use next time you’re behind a real wheel.