POINT OF VIEW: Harrowing experience means more needed for train safety

Several years ago, I experienced a harrowing experience when I encountered a near accident with a train on 45th Street in Vero Beach. In light of the state and corporate response to recent rail fatalities and injury, I decided to write and tell my story.

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As I drove through the rail crossing, I heard the “ding, ding, ding” warning that a train was coming. I stopped the car thinking I should back up but the arm dropped quickly behind me. As I turned back around in my seat, I saw this train flying down the track toward me. Mind you, all these events happened almost instantaneously. I thought that I wouldn’t even have enough time to exit my vehicle and hoped to God that my wheels wouldn’t have been entrenched or slowed by momentarily stopping on the tracks. I floored the vehicle gas pedal in sheer panic, safely clearing the tracks. Some may think it was unwise, to say the least, to stop on the tracks, but I was stunned by the so-called warning and needing to assess my best escape plan. The arm appeared to drop instantaneously.

In the recently reported fatalities involving Brightline passenger trains, it has been alleged that the victims were either trying to race the train or committing suicide. I assure you I was doing neither; and it’s presumptuous to assume that. There was not adequate lead time with a warning prior to the train’s arrival at the intersection. A response should be that the warning and guardrail should be initiated much earlier.

Keep in mind that my recent incident occurred not even with 100-mph trains barreling through our community.

Let me add I am not opposed to trains or progress but expect that adequate planning, design and execution be put in place so it would be compatible with communities and safe for its citizens and the animals who coexist there. Also, there’s a major question as to the need for such high-speed locomotives. My contention is that an even better alternative is to move the tracks west of town so there wouldn’t be the risk to the welfare of inhabitants. It was an incomprehensible ordeal I endured.

The general response to the other accidents was to educate the public about public safety, as if these individuals chose to put themselves in a dangerous game of chicken with a train. It would be better for all involved to simply move the train and put in sufficient safeguards, including the soundproof wall.


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