(Plant City, Florida – February 4, 2021)
A Florida resident was killed last Thursday afternoon around 4:30 pm, EST, when her vehicle was struck by a high-speed Amtrak train. The collision occurred in Plant City, Florida, just outside of Tampa. The railroad crossing, which was the site of the incident, is owned and maintained by CSX Transportation Inc.
The driver, who has yet to be identified, was pronounced deceased at the scene by Hillsborough County sheriff deputies.
According to railroad submitted records, the crossing accommodates on average seven trains a day at speeds up to 79 miles per hour. The crossing is also listed by CSX as private. However, it appears the crossing is readily used by the public and provides access to multiple homes on the other side of the tracks. As a result, it may have been incorrectly classified by the railroad. Regardless, because of the private classification it is unclear whether the train crew provided the motorist sufficient audible train horn warning to allow the motorist to timely detect the presence of the oncoming train.
Moreover, despite the frequent and high-speed train operations, the crossing that is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. The installation of lights and gates would have almost certainly prevented this collision. Amtrak, CSX, and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train collisions by as much as 96%.