Brightline: Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Safety

The Brightline opened this past January, providing high-speed rail service between Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Miami. It is the first privately owned passenger rail system in the United States since the early 1980s. And while private ownership can offer many benefits, it also raises serious concerns about the Brightline operator’s commitment to safety.

Staying Safe When Crossing the Rails

And we’re not talking about a hypothetical concern. As of early May 2018, according to the Miami New Times, there have already been six fatal accidents involving the Brightline–including two fatalities during the system’s first week of full operation. Both of those deaths occurred when pedestrians attempted to cross the tracks after the signal gates came down.

The New Times reported that in an effort to emphasize safe crossing practices, Brightline posted 450 “cautionary signs” in multiple languages warning pedestrians not to go near the rails, as well as 20 “variable-message signs” throughout Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Management has also stationed a number of “safety ambassadors” at key intersections to prevent pedestrians from crossing the rails when a train is approaching.

Keep in mind, Brightline trains are designed to operate at speeds approaching 80 miles per hour in heavily congested urban areas. This means that motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike must exercise caution whenever approaching or crossing a Brightline intersection. Here are a few common-sense safety tips you should always observe:

  • Never attempt to cross a railway at any place other than a designated public crossing, i.e. one with a gate and flashing red lights. Remember, Brightline is privately owned, so if you attempt to cross the rails at non-public areas, you are trespassing and subject to possible arrest.
  • Given the speed at which Brightline trains travel, the engineer may not be able to stop in time if he or she sees someone on the tracks. Again, this emphasizes the importance of using only public crossings–and not attempting to cross once the gates are down.
  • Once a train has passed, always wait a few moments to make sure there is no second train coming from the other direction. Also remember, trains do not always follow their posted schedules, so you should always keep a careful lookout before attempting to cross the tracks, even if you do not think a train is coming.

Seeking Compensation for a Transit Provider’s Negligence

It should also be noted that some of the six reported deaths in Brightline-related accidents appear to have been suicides. But the fact that some individuals may have intentionally caused harm to themselves does not absolve Brightline, or any other transit company, of its legal duty to maintain property safety practices. Indeed, if you have suffered a serious injury–or lost a family member–due to the negligence of a transportation company, you have the right to seek compensation from the responsible parties. Contact the Miami personal injury lawyers at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, or call 305-371-2692 to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team today.