Florida has been ordered by Federal officials to reduce the number of railroad crossing accidents occurring in the state. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently issued new rules requiring Florida and the nine other states with the highest number of crashes to develop plans to reduce the number of railroad crossing accidents. Failure to do so could jeopardize millions of dollars in federal funding already earmarked for roadway crossing safety.
The Florida Department of Transportation receives $7 million a year from the federal government specifically for railroad crossing safety. 40 to 50 projects can be completed each year with their budget, and it covers new warning devices where there are none, upgrading outdated signals with newer, brighter LED lights or installing gates that block both sides of a railroad crossing.
Railroad Crossing Accidents Cut In Half
The irony is that over the past four years Florida has cut in half the number of railroad crossing accidents occurring on their highways. At Nadrich & Cohen, we have qualified train accident lawyer ready to answer all your questions about train accidents call now at 1-800-718-4658 and speak with an experienced railroad accident lawyer.
Florida must submit the required Plan by August 2011 and it must be implemented within five years. The FRA acknowledged Florida’s recent progress in reducing crossing accidents when Rob Kulat, an administration spokesman said, “The numbers are trending in the right way, but we would still like to see the number of incidents reduced substantially,” and continued, “Zero is the ultimate goal.”
Florida May Close Some Railroad Crossings
Because Florida has already installed lights and gates at about 80 percent of its railroad crossings, its options for future improvement could be somewhat limited. Aside from the possibility of closing current crossings or building overpasses which are extremely costly, state officials are left with the option of turning to the public to get their message across.
That message is to stop driving around crossing gates and to stop ignoring the warning lights. States are now experimenting with new technologies that rely on sensors to alert train engineers and dispatchers in traffic management centers of vehicles stopped on the railroad tracks. “If they see someone is stopped on the tracks, they can dispatch law enforcement,” said Annette Lapkowski, the state’s rail operations administrator.
Advance warning is crucial in preventing railroad crossing accidents because it can take a train a mile or more to stop. In three large southern Florida counties Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, according to a Sun Sentinel analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data, 34 people died and 51 were injured in 145 crossing accidents from 2005 through April 2010. In drafting Florida’s plan the state will look at railroad crossing accident trends to determine which crossings to upgrade and which to close.
Contact Train Accident Lawyer
A public awareness plan is also in the works and will emphasize the importance of drivers not trying to beat the trains at crossings. “Don’t take that risk. If you do there are often grave consequences,” Lapkowski said. At Nadrich & Cohen, we have qualified train accident attorneys who are experienced in defending the rights of our clients. We have 26 locations throughout California including San Jose, Palm Springs, Modesto, Riverside and more. If you or a loved one has been involved in a train accident contact an experienced train accident lawyer now at The Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen call 1-800-718-4658.