The new railway company, Brightline, which is in the process of building high-speed train service throughout South Florida and up to Orlando, has hit some safety snags within the first few weeks of service. The rail line began offering service from its Ft. Lauderdale to West Palm Beach stations in January of 2018, However, since January 12th three people have already been struck on the Brightline tracks, one of the individuals tragically died as a result of her injuries.
Recent Brightline Accidents
On its preview run, a Brightline train struck and killed a 32-year-old woman who was crossing the tracks, and most recently, the train struck and killed a 51-year-old bicyclist who was pedaling around the guardrails to try and beat the train. The latest death was the fourth person killed since Brightline began test runs last year.
Common Railroad Accidents
In each accident, it appears that guardrails were lowered and warning lights were also in use. Unfortunately, the accidents seemingly occurred due to the fact that the pedestrians and bicyclists did not heed the warnings to stay behind the guardrails as the train was approaching.
These particular trains are traveling at speeds up to 79 mph in the areas where the accidents occurred, and may even travel upwards of 125 mph in portions of the railway between Cocoa Beach and Orlando once it is completed. With active trains moving at very high speeds, it’s absolutely imperative that drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists do not attempt to beat the train once guardrails are lowered and it is known that a train is approaching a street crossing.
Brightline is also in the process of putting up large electronic signs at several busy rail crossings to warn drivers and pedestrians that the trains are now in service and may be crossing the roadway. A team of safety ambassadors will also be deployed by Brightline to key intersections and throughout the communities served by the trains to remind people to take every safety precaution around fast-moving trains, including staying off the tracks at all times.
Know the Railroad Laws for Pedestrians and Drivers
Here are a couple of legal reminders for train safety:
- It is illegal to go around railroad guard gates or stop a car on train tracks. Drivers can receive a fine of $166 and three points on their license, and pedestrians can be fined $64.50.
- It is illegal to walk along railroad tracks and you can be charged with a misdemeanor for trespassing if you are caught.
At any given time during the week, Brightline has 10 round-trip trains currently running between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, and on the weekends that number drops to nine. As additional stations open up in Miami and further up the Florida east coast, it becomes more important for drivers and pedestrians to be educated on railroad crossing safety. If you live near the rail line, it’s also extremely important to educate your family on the dangers of being near the active tracks, as trains will become a more common mode of transportation here in South Florida. However, if you or a loved are seriously injured or even killed as a result of an accident, it is always important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible as you may be able to recover for economic and non-economic damages.
NEW: Brightline adds safety features at crossings. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/brightline-adds-safety-features-crossings/pccOvYrlbN3QWE1R6Ztv1J/
(2018, January 23). Train Company Puts up Warning Signs After Recent Deaths. Retrieved January 24, 2018, from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/florida/articles/2018-01-23/train-company-puts-up-warning-signs-after-recent-deaths