Last week, Brightline resumed its services after pausing service since the onset of the pandemic. On the first day of its return, a Brightline train crashed into a car containing a 71-year old woman and her granddaughter. The accident took place in Pompano Beach near the intersection of Northeast Third Street and North Flagler Avenue. The woman experienced some broken bones, but the child did not suffer any serious injuries.

What is Brightline?

Virgin Trains USA is a privately owned passenger railroad system. It is sometimes referred to as Brightline, and it is brought to us by All Aboard Florida, which is a major overall connection that links Florida’s infrastructure, real estate, and transportation. Brightline currently connects travelers in Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. There are plans to offer service to other areas like the Orlando International Airport. The train can travel as fast as up to 79 miles per hour, and it services most of South Florida. Brightline began its services in January of 2018, but it has experienced its fair share of accidents including pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. Patrick Goddard, the president of Brightline, urged drivers to employ wise decisions when encountering a train saying, “This is endemic to the entire industry, nationally, internationally, people choose to circumvent the very equipment that’s put in place to protect them. They try to beat trains at grade crossings.” WPTV reported that Brightline spent more than $10 million on red light cameras and improved signs at railroad crossings in an effort to boost safety. Despite the amount of collisions that have occurred, Goddard insists Brightline is a safe option saying, “We really want the South Florida community to understand what Brightline is and what we can do for the community, how we add an alternate mode of travel.”

What are Some Tips for Railroad Track Safety?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to caution drivers and pedestrians when they are near train tracks. Technically, it is illegal to be on train tracks unless you are at a designated crossing. Because not everyone regularly encounters a train, it is important to remember that a train can not stop as quickly as your vehicle can. You need to take the initiative to stop yourself instead of relying on a train to stop because it takes a train at least a mile to come to a complete halt.

If you will be traveling near the Brightline system, keep these tips in mind:

  • Trains have the right of way.
  • Listen carefully to your surroundings.
  • Trains are wider than the actual tracks.
  • Do not challenge a lowering gate. Yield to it.
  • If your car gets stuck on the crossing, exit the vehicle, and call 911.
  • Do not cross until the gates fully open and the flashing lights completely stop.
  • Make sure you have plenty of room to cross and follow through with the action.

Are Train Accidents Common in Florida?

Unfortunately, Florida ranked 2nd highest in the nation for the number of fatalities from freight and passenger trains in 2017. Most of these accidents happen because of human error, machine failure, or a mistake in the tracks. That is why it is especially important for drivers to be mindful of the construction going on right now. Not only could a road collision hurt a crew member, but it could also throw off the process of the tracks and cause a mistake that could come back to haunt us in the future.

Florida has several freight carriers that make train traffic pretty common. They include, but are not limited to, Florida East Coast Railway, CSX Transportation, Florida Central Railroad, Florida Northern Railroad, National Railroad Passenger Corporation d/b/a Amtrak, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-Rail), and Virgin Trains USA. With such a variety of carriers coming through, it is no surprise that there are 2,000 railroad track collisions each year in our country.

What To Do If You’re Involved in a Train Accident

Roads can be dangerous enough with regular vehicular traffic, but the dynamics heighten when a train is nearby. Whether it’s a train track that’s been there for decades or one that’s being currently constructed, be mindful about the requirements for safe driving near a train and how they differ from that of other vehicles. If you’re involved in a train accident, you do have the right to sue for compensation. With investigations completed by the National Traffic Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration, and state and local governments, you can build a strong case with the help of a trusted lawyer at Keller, Melchiorre, and Walsh. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a train accident, call us today to get started with a personal consultation best suited for your needs.