Ever since Sunrail’s inaugural ride in May 2014, Orlando drivers have been forced to adopt new safety habits to deal with the trains that now run on Central Florida’s 31 miles of track. The path to Sunrail safety is not smooth: our commuter rail has been involved in 13 auto accidents in 19 months, many caused by cars stalling or stopping on railroad crossings. Orlando accident attorney Jeff Badgley and his personal injury law firm Badgley Law Group have been monitoring the incidents through this website, which keeps riders and citizens updated on the latest Sunrail safety news.
The most recent incident involved a car being clipped by a Sunrail train in Winter Park during rush hour, after the car didn’t have enough room to pull completely through the crossing. The morning and evening commutes are a particularly dangerous time for train accidents, as traffic backs up close to the tracks and drivers must steer clear of both sides of the crossing bars.
For Central Floridians to stay safe around trains, they must understand and abide by basic protective measures. Sunrail accident attorney Jeff Badgley recommends the following:
You must stop for the train, because the train can’t stop for you.
Sunrail trains weigh between 285,000 to 295,000 pounds, which means the momentum carrying them down the tracks is tremendous. So tremendous, in fact, that it can take up to a mile or more for the train to come to a complete stop. And trains can’t swerve, so if your car is on the tracks, an accident with a Sunrail train is inevitable and serious injuries or death may occur.
Respect the crossing signals.
Shockingly, over half of all train collisions occur at crossings with flashing lights, crossbars, and sound alerts. The takeaway? Drivers feel like they have enough time to outrun the train and pass the tracks without getting stuck between the crossing gates. Statistics tell a different tale. When the train warning goes off, believe it. Stop quickly, with wide clearance for the train to pass.
If you’re stuck on the tracks, exit the car immediately and call 911.
Even if a train doesn’t seem to be approaching, get yourself and all passengers out of the car and away from the tracks. Run if you have to, heading toward the direction of the oncoming train. This will shield you from any flying metal or glass that will result from the crash.
Always assume a train is coming.
If your daily commute travels right over a train track, yet you’ve never seen an actual train, don’t infer that you’ll never encounter one. Drivers get lulled into a false sense of security that today’s commute will be just like yesterday’s, which will be just like tomorrow’s. But that’s not the case: trains become delayed and run off-schedule, so this morning just might be your first train spotting. Pay attention to the tracks, even if they don’t seem to be getting any action.
Unfortunately, Central Floridians aren’t practicing these train safety measures, and Sunrail accidents are becoming increasingly common. If someone you know has been injured in an incident on railroad tracks, call us immediately at (407) 781-0420. Sunrail personal injury attorney Jeff Badgley will offer you expert advice and a free consultation.