Three teens were tragically killed by a train crossing a bridge in Melbourne, Florida. They were seen earlier taking pictures and joking around on a railroad that spans 200 feet over a creek. Unfortunately, they were not able to move out of the way fast enough as an oncoing train barreled down the tracks, According to an Associated Press article.
Reportedly, onlookers shouted for the teens to run or jump into the 20 feet creek of water below, sadly only one was able to jump out of the way safely. The train accident occured just before dusk on Saturday evening.
One can't help but ask the question why this tragic train accident occurred and how it could have been avoided? Pedestrians and drivers should exercise caution when crossing railroads. We encourage parents and teachers to discuss the importance of exercising caution at Railroad crossings, both as a driver and a pedestrian to students of all ages.
Driver safety educator and trainer for the National Safety Commission, Dave Herron, states the following in his articleon Railroad Safety Tips that unfortunately can apply to pedestrians as well:
"Drivers are still not getting the word that trying to outrace a train at a railroad crossing is a lose/lose proposition. 94% of the collisions and 87% of the fatalities at railroad crossings are caused by risky driving behavior or poor judgment on the part of the driver."
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, reports that in 2008, Florida had 50 accidents at rail-road crossings between trains and cars or pedestrians that resulted in 12 deaths and 19 injuries. There were a total of 378 total injuries at rail-roads as a crash site location. The numbers are down 2007, where there were a total of 90 accidents at rail-road crossings involving trains and cars or pedestrians that resulted in 20 fatalities and 63 injuries.
Taking a look at pedetrian fatalities from 2008, Brevard County, the location of the train accident, reported 18 pedestrian fatalities. The top five counties in Florida ranked by pedestrian fatalities and injuries, includethe following:
- Miami Dade: 66 pedestrian fatalities and 1466 Injuries
- Broward : 51 pedestrian fatalities and 1005 Injuries
- Hillborough: 47 pedestrian fatalities and 618 Injuries
- Palm Beach: 32 pedestrian fatalities and 583 Injuries
- Orange: 28 pedestrian fatalities and 569 Injuries
Dave Herron provides a few helpful and practical safety tips on Railroad Crossing Dangers:
- Assume that there is a train on every track at all times, even tracks that are rarely used.
- If there are two or more tracks, make sure there a train isn't coming in the other direction.
- When stopping at a railroad crossing make sure you stop no less than 15 feet from the tracks.
- Never cross a railroad track unless you are sure there is room on the other side for your vehicle to completely clear the tracks.
- Don't shift gears while crossing a railroad track; it could cause your vehicle to stall.
- If your car stalls on a railroad track, get out of the car immediately, clear the tracks and call 911 for help.
- If a train is coming, run away from the tracks in the direction of the approaching train.
- Never try to beat a train at a crossing or snake around the lowered crossing gates. Once the lights start to flash and the crossing gate arms go down, the train will appear in about 20 seconds.