News & Reviews News Wire FRA calls meeting on South Florida grade-crossing, pedestrian safety

FRA calls meeting on South Florida grade-crossing, pedestrian safety

By | February 21, 2022

Wednesday session follows series of Brightline accidents

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Traffic waits for a Brightline train in Delray Beach, Fla. The FRA is asking Brightline, other rail operators, and local officials to attend a meeting this week to address safety efforts. (Trains: David Lassen)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration will hold a meeting this week with South Florida rail operators, as well as government and law-enforcement officials, to discuss safety efforts in the wake of ongoing fatal accidents involving Brightline passenger service.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports Brightline, Amtrak, CSX, and commuter agency Tri-Rail will be part of the meeting in Boynton Beach, Fla., along with local officials, to assess the efforts to deter accidents involving pedestrians and drivers at grade crossings.

The meeting comes after a fatal grade-crossing accident Feb. 13 that was the seventh involving Brightline since it resumed operations in November, and 57th since launch of the service. Brightline trains were involved in four accidents in a four-day period last week; in at least two cases, the vehicles were struck after drivers went around crossing gates.

The problems continue even though the company worked to upgrade crossing safety systems and improve public awareness prior to its restart [see “Brightline to resume South Florida service …,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 10, 2021].

“It is important to point out,” an FRA spokesman told the newspaper, “that none of the tragic accidents involving grade crossings and trespassers resulted from the railroad’s failiure to comply with federal regulations.” He also pointed out that grants are available to address right-of-way safety, and that the agency encourages law enforcement agencies along Brightline’s route “to apply for these grants and, when possible, to cite motorists for failing to obey state traffic laws.”

13 thoughts on “FRA calls meeting on South Florida grade-crossing, pedestrian safety

  1. After seeing videos of the collisions. One of them there was no 4 quadrant gates. The guy was sitting at an intersection parallel to the tracks and when the EOT of an FEC freight passed by, he jumped the light and turned left to cross on the left side to beat the traffic waiting on the gates to lift.

    What he didn’t know is that there was a Brightline coming on the other track and couldn’t see it when he made the jump. In fact you can see the guys face in shock when he turned his head and saw the train less than a second before it split his car in two. Last I heard he was alive and in ICU.

    The other accident occurred when a woman was in her car with her daughter and was convinced someone was out to get her. So she decided to cross the tracks where no crossing existed and her car got stuck on the rails. Fortunately she got out and ran over to a nearby house, but not to call about her car on the tracks, but to call 911 that someone was out to get her and she couldn’t get away. It never occurred to her to call the police about her car. The car was demolished. It was never determined “who” was out to get her.

    None of the 4 accidents were due to any defects in signals or warnings. They were all due to defects in decision making by the drivers.

  2. Well now that the FRA is involved this will probably just add more to the “Stupid is as stupid does” scenarios.

  3. The Feds have nothing better to do? There’s plenty of places with grade crossings and lots of trains. Ever been to the Chicago suburbs? Hear of many incidents there?

    Sue the perps, make them pay.

    And no, you don’t need four-quadrant gates, you need pedestrians and motorists who take responsibility for their own actions.

    1. That’s pretty much our attitude in South Florida: Play stupid games win stupid prizes.

  4. Unless the police crack down hard on offenders who are caught walking or driving around lowered gates, and the word gets around, nothing will change. It’s the same disregard for the law that’s prevalent across the country. There are no hard-hitting penalties any more, just revolving door justice.

  5. South Florida has historically been the “wild West” characterized by minimalist law enforcement and an overall disregard for human life. One really, really has to work hard to get pulled over by law enforcement on the highway. Typically when one does see the flashing lights on the side of the road it’s in response to an accident. With such a pervasive mindset is it any wonder the locals perceive blowing through lowered gates with the same impunity as running a red light?

  6. Guessing FEC will get a call too. Having moved here two years ago I can say I’ve never seen more stupid drivers than in Florida, hurry up to get no where. Even the patrol cars go 10 to 20 over the limit, yes some might actually be going to a call yet no lights flashing. Start enforcing the laws down here for vehicles especially around crossings and you might start to see a decrease in gate runners. Either that or install lane dividers at approaches, maybe steel bollards that come out of the pavement at crossings. Would love to see a vehicle up in the air on one of those, passerby’s would have a field day posting they’re pics. As for people…if they want to whack themselves they’re going to find a way whether it’s a train or other handy method. 50+ incidents and not Brightline or FEC fault.

    1. And despite their stupidity, don’t be surprised when Brightline is sued for damages. Such a waste of court resources.

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