A man was struck and killed by a train in Stuart Tuesday evening. The tragic incident halted the Florida East Coast Railway train, blocking intersections with railroad crossings from the Roosevelt Bridge south to Monterey Rd. for an extended period of time while police investigated. Earlier that day, a pedestrian in northern St. Lucie County was struck and killed by a train in a residential area. Witnesses said the train was not traveling at a high rate of speed, and the train's conductor lightly tapped the horn to signal the pedestrian.
While the circumstances surrounding these situations aren't entirely clear, these two fatal train vs. pedestrian incidents serve as a harsh reminder to follow railroad safety protocol.
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 are traveling near a railroad crossing, 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 & 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.