In the United States, a person or car is struck by a train every three hours. Two recent incidents involve SunRail trains striking a vehicular trailer and a car at railroad crossings in Longwood and Maitland. One driver sustained minor injuries.
SunRail trains with two or three passenger cars weigh in at 530,000 and 654,000 pounds respectively and can take as much as an entire half-mile to come to a full and complete stop. The average car, on the other hand, is a mere 3,500 pounds. Even though the speed limit for SunRail trains around crossings is 35 to 40 miles per hour, if a train and car were to come into contact, the ratio of a car to a train is proportional to that of a soda can to a car. Such incidents will almost always have a devastating effect on the car.
Given SunRail’s frequency and size of the trains in relation to cars, it is imperative that drivers exercise caution and good judgment near all railroad crossings. Operation Lifesaver recommends motorists to:
• Avoid all distractions such as texting.
• Heed all railroad-crossing signage.
• Stop 25 feet from a railroad crossing.
• Expect a train, even if the crossing arms remain in their upright position or there is no train whistle.
• Never try to beat a train to a railroad crossing. Trains are faster than cars.
• Never weave around the crossing arms as they descend from a vertical to a horizontal position. It takes trains only 20 seconds to arrive at a crossing after the arms begin descending to a 90-degree position.
• Look for another train if there are multiple tracks.
• Proceed through a railroad crossing if – and only if – the car can clear the crossing without stopping on the tracks.
With the arrival of SunRail, more trains are rolling through Maitland – and Central Florida – than ever before. SunRail runs 34 times a day along the commuter-rail corridor, in addition to freight and Amtrak trains passing through Maitland daily.
It is important that all automobile drivers and passengers arrive at their destination safely. Take the time to learn about safe practices when approaching train tracks. Be careful and drive safely!
For more information about rail safety, please visit Operation Lifesaver’s website at oli.org