FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Brightline has teamed up with law enforcement agencies in Broward County to launch what they described as a “zero tolerance” program to help prevent crashes at railroad crossings.
At a news conference held Friday, officials with Brightline and the Broward Sheriff’s Office discussed the initiative that has been dubbed Operation Crossing Guard.
“Over the past year and a half, there have been numerous collisions and fatal incidents involving Brightline and [Florida East Coast Railway] trains,” said BSO Col. Steven Robson.
The announcement comes days after a woman was struck and killed by a Brightline train in Pompano Beach.
In Hollywood, the driver of a Jeep was killed when, officials said, they went around the gates and onto the tracks.
Surveillance video showed the devastating impact of another crash involving a Brightline train in Pompano Beach.
Investigators said the driver, 27-year-old Jacob Bresnahan, was killed when the train hit his truck.
Brightline officials said the gates were down, signaling the oncoming train.
“In almost all cases, people are ignoring and circumventing the warning lights, sounds, safety signs and crossing gates,” said Robson.
Authorities said that drivers caught stopping on the tracks or going around the crossing arms will be ticketed.
“Stopping on the tracks, blocking the tracks, for that it’s a $205 violation. Driving around down crossing arms is a moving violation with a $165 fine,” said BSO Sgt. Todd Michael.
“Aside from the fines, the real cost is people’s lives. That’s the real cost,” said Robson.
The trains travel up to 79 mph, and Brightline officials said it takes 45 seconds for one to pass through a crossing.
Brightline officials said they are optimistic that the increased enforcement will help decrease the number of crashes.
“We’re relentless about this topic. We are relentless about safety at Brightline,” said Ben Porritt, senior vice president of Brightline. “These incidents are not unique to our corridor. We see incidents like this all across the country.”
Brightline has the worst fatality rate of any railroad in the country, according to an ongoing Associated Press analysis. More than 60 people have been killed since 2017.
“The odds of beating the trains are definitely not in your favor, and the results are just tragic,” said Robson.
In addition to the new enforcement initiative, Brightline and the Florida Department of Transportation are applying for a $45 million federal grant to pay for safety enhancements at railroad crossings.
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