The SunRail trains are warming up and getting ready for their May debut across Central Florida, but faulty railroad crossing arms may lead to more injuries. So far, SunRail trains cross streets at 127 different locations, each one being another point for a dangerous collision.
WESH investigated these crossing and uncovered that the SunRail crossings may not be that safe due to crossing arms designed to prevent cars from reaching the tracks as trains approach. Like Johnny Cash sang in Folsom Prison Blues, “I hear the train a comin’, it’s rolling round the bend,” but for SunRail trains the safety crossing arms are not protecting cars or alerting them to stay off the tracks. In a YouTube video posted by Patrick Smith in Belle Isle, you can hear the bell sounding a train is coming, but the gates did not come down. Lucky for individuals on this day, Mr. Smith was able to call 9-1-1 and get the train stopped before any accidents could occur.
According to the WESH report there were “30 instances in 2013 when one or both crossing arms failed to drop or came down too late when a train was passing through a Central Florida crossing.” The response from the Florida Department of Transportation is even more concerning, “a train could be coming any time whether the gates are down or the gates are up, and people need to be cautious,” said Steve Olson. Even the Federal Railroad Administration has got involved, fining FDOT more than $17,000 for certain incidents related to failing crossing gates.
Just last year, a motorist at the Longwood Intersection reported that the gates failed to drop and they were almost struck by the oncoming train. You can read about all of the violation data that WESH uncovered here. For you as drivers, paying attention at all train crossings is critical if the gates are malfunctioning. The Federal Railroad Administration statistics show that in 2013 there were just over 2,000 train collisions which resulted in 251 fatalities, saying that “a motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.” In fact, Operation Lifesaver, an organization that promotes rail safety education, says that the force of a train hitting your car is like your car crushing a can of soda! As the SunRail trains begin traveling through Central Florida, make you “look & listen” for any oncoming trains as the crossing gates might not warn you.
If you or a loved one is injured by a SunRail train either from failed crossing gates or another negligent act, please do not hesitate to call or reach us to discuss your options.