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SunRail Train Hits SUV in Orlando

On Friday, June 27, a SunRail commuter train clipped the back of a vehicle that had stopped too close to the tracks. The train was heading to Sand Lake Road and the crossing gates were down and flashing. It appeared the vehicle had attempted to get across the tracks before the train arrived, but had been stopped just on the other side due to traffic congestion. Fortunately, no one in the vehicle or the train was seriously hurt.

This marked the third vehicle-train collision since the debut of the commuter rail system on May 1, although all the incidents were minor. The vehicles’ drivers were ticketed for the first two crashes after investigators determined the train operators were not at fault.

Unfortunately, not all train accidents end the same way, as every year these crashes seriously injure or kill as many as 2,400 people in the U.S. — a casualty rate that has not changed in nearly 15 years.

Just as with the crash in Orlando, drivers often attempt to “beat the train,” racing across the tracks as a train approaches to avoid being delayed by it. This impatience causes many people their lives, as studies show that drivers tend to underestimate the speed of trains and misjudge how quickly a train is moving.

Even when motorists are able to get across the tracks in time, it does not mean they fully clear the train, as was the case in the recent Orlando accident A little bit of patience goes a long way and drivers should remain on the safe side of the tracks and wait for the congestion to clear — and the train — instead of zipping across.

Part of the reason for these crashes lies in the train warning system. Most railroad-highway intersections are marked with flashing lights and crossing gates to indicate the approach of a train. These warnings begin far in advance of the train and motorists are trained to understand that the activated signals do not necessarily mean the train is imminent. Instead of warning people to stop and wait for the train, it instead signals them to hurry up and get across the tracks because a train will be coming soon.

Even when drivers observe these warnings, collisions do happen and they may be the fault of train conductor or equipment issues. If you’ve been involved in a train accident in Florida, speak with a dedicated Lake County attorney.  

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