Florida Department of Transportation urging drivers to obey railroad crossing warnings

MAITLAND, Fla. — As more people are hitting the road this summer, the Florida Department of Transportation is urging people to be smart and safe around the tracks.

Earlier this week, Maitland police said a car hit a northbound train at Horatio Avenue and Maitland Avenue.

Days later, a viewer sent Channel 9 a video showing a close call between a car and a SunRail train.

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FDOT said the engineer of a southbound SunRail train saw a white hatchback stop between the crossing gates, make a U-turn, and move to clear the track.

SunRail said the train engineer immediately slowed and fortunately the vehicle was far enough from the tracks to avoid a collision.

“It is never OK to try and beat and go around gates,” said FDOT communications director, Jessica Ottaviano.

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SunRail said safety is its top priority and is reminding people to respect the train, respect the signals and always expect a train at any time.

“I have been doing this for about 20 years now. The worst thing that runs through my mind is hitting someone,” said Mark, a SunRail engineer. “When I am doing 79 miles per hour down this rail, I cover 120 yards in less than 3 seconds. That doesn’t give me a lot of time to stop this train.”

FDOT is pushing out its safety message constantly, reminding pedestrians, drivers and cyclists to obey grade crossing warning signs and alerts to avoid needless collisions.

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A driver’s decision not only endangers them, it puts engineers and passengers in harm’s way.

“It’s a huge responsibility, you have many people’s lives in your hands,” said Christine, a SunRail engineer.

SunRail said to move forward if you are stopped on the tracks while a train approaches because crossing arms are actually designed to break away so you can get away safely.

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