Pickup truck takes on Brightline and narrowly survives
Would you risk your life to shave a few seconds off your commute?
In the time it took you to answer that question, a pickup truck driver in Florida was halfway across the train tracks, attempting to beat a Brightline train that can go 79 miles per hour.
The crossing gates dropped. The whistles blared. The lights flashed.
Initially waiting in line with other vehicles, at the crossing in Deerfield Beach, the driver passed a car and headed toward the tracks.
And Geoff West caught it all on his dashboard camera video.
“Look at this guy, look at this guy,” marveled Jeri West of Deerfield Beach to her husband, Geoff. “Unbelievable! Unbelievable!”
The driver weaved around a crossing gate and accelerated on through.
Seconds later, the express passenger train zoomed by and the waiting cars were free to carry on with their commute.
West’s footage of the death-defying maneuver was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday under the name “BRIGHTLINE COMMUTER TRAIN NEAR MISS!!”
Brightline, which operates on the Florida East Coast Railway between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, has been involved in four fatal accidents since the company began testing its trains last year. Two of those deaths occurred since Brightline’s public debut on Jan. 12, and all involve people crossing the tracks when they’re not supposed to.
Last week, a man was hospitalized with a fractured leg and pelvis after he was clipped by a Brightline train in Fort Lauderdale.
In an attempt to prevent further incidents, and following calls from Florida’s U.S. senators for a safety review, Brightline announced it would ramp up a rail safety campaign, install temporary digital signs at busy crossings and deploy safety ambassadors to patrol the tracks and hand out safety literature. The Sun Sentinel reported that the company hired off-duty Broward and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies to stand watch at crossings in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.
Brightline will expand its service to Downtown Miami in the coming months, according to the company.
Geoff West, 70, told the Sun Sentinel that he hopes the footage of the incident could help educate residents about the danger of crossing the tracks with a near-high-speed train on its way.
“I hope it makes people more aware,” he said. “On these trains, there’s definitely less time between when the gates go down and the train comes than the freight trains we’re used to.”