LONGWOOD, Fla. — Drivers in Seminole County can now use new escape lanes along the train tracks on Ronald Regan Boulevard in Longwood.
The lanes are meant to help drivers who find themselves stuck on the tracks because of slow traffic or traffic lights.
An SUV was struck by a train in the area in June 2017, after the driver got too close to the tracks. It's just one of many accidents that have happened over the years.
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“There has been an increase in crashes. And anytime there is a crash with a train, there is a higher risk of injury to the drivers,” said Deputy Chief Clint Gioielli, with the Longwood Police Department.
Gioielli said the new concrete slabs the Florida Department of Transportation installed could be the key to preventing similar crashes on the tracks. They are called escape lanes.
"Once somebody is trapped in a dangerous area as a result of the train coming through and the guard gates coming down, the only option they would have to escape would be to move forward," Gioielli said.
Drivers can now use the escape lanes on the inside near the median and on the outside lanes near the sidewalk at the tracks near Ronald Reagan Boulevard and State Road 434.
FDOT officials said the lanes are part of a $1.5 million improvement project along Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
Authorities are asking drivers to still use common sense when approaching the tracks.
“We ask drivers to try and forecast ahead, if you see the traffic is already becoming congested, and that they stop behind the white line, which is clearly marked," Gioielli said.
Longwood police said that so far, they have not received any reports of someone having to use the escape lanes, but they are glad they are there for people to use, just in case.
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