South Florida’s private high-speed rail line, Brightline, continues to face a severe problem as it works to build its way from Miami to Orlando International Airport and then Disney World: South Florida Drivers.
According to WESH2, there have been three collisions just in the past week due to what can be described as nothing less than reckless driving.
Sunday, February 13: One person died, and another was hospitalized after a Brightline train struck a vehicle in Palm Beach County. A Brightline spokesperson said, “This was a tragic event and the direct result of an individual driving around the gates which were down, flashing and bells ringing, signaling an approaching train.”
Tuesday, February 14: A Brightline train collided with a personal vehicle in Delray Beach. The woman driving the vehicle and her 3-month-old child escaped unharmed, but police explained that the accident was due to the fact she drove her vehicle onto the tracks in an area not designated a crossing site. Her car became stuck, and she left the car with her child to go knock on people’s doors. According to an ABC clip included in WESH’s report, the woman was Baker-Acted.
Wednesday, February 15: One person was hospitalized in Lake Worth Beach, colliding with a Brightline train after trying to beat the train by going around the gates. Brightline held a press conference at the incident site calling for the media to help them spread awareness of rail safety, stressing not just people’s lives but also the mental and emotional tax such unnecessary collisions take on the engineers who get a front-row seat.
Since its debut, Brightline has worked to maintain the highest standards of rail safety. They constantly take to social media to remind people of rail safety and what to do when the lights start flashing, and the red and white gates start to come down and block the road.
In every instance of a collision, the train is required by law to come to a complete stop–if the accident does not cause its derailment–report the incident, provide aid to any wounded and inspect the train for damages, among other things. No passenger or staff injuries have been reported.
On their website, Brightline offers downloadable brochures, factsheets, and a pledge card teaching and calling for people to commit to better rail safety practices.
Related: Car Runs off Road Causes a Backup by Walt Disney World Exit off I-4
Brightline hopes to be testing its trains along its new airport corridor starting next year and expects to reach its Walt Disney World Station within a few years. South Florida–especially the stretch between Miami and West Palm Beach–is infamous for its drivers. Combine them with the unfamiliarity of frequent passenger train activity, and the result appears to be a bit of a learning curve.
According to an earlier article in the Tampa Bay Times, many of these accidents have been blamed on suicide or other mental illnesses, sparking yet another push for awareness of those issues.