Florida increasing fines, penalties for people breaking the law around railroad tracks

Florida is cracking down on dangerous driving near railroad tracks.

A new state law just started, increasing fines to $500 if anyone's caught going around a lowered crossing arm.

Melbourne was ground zero for two deadly train accidents earlier this year. Now, the mayor says the new law isn't enough.

The two deadly Brightline crashes happened less than 48 hours apart in January and shattered the Space Coast.

"I thought it was pretty sad," said Richard Fisher, who works near the fatal crash sites. 

The drivers involved allegedly tried to beat the trains. 

"You don’t win with a train," said Melbourne Mayor, Paul Alfrey. 

Both crashes killed people, and now the state of Florida is cracking down by upping fines. 

"I feel it’s good. It’s a good thing," said Fisher. "Maybe people will start paying attention."

Anyone caught going around lowered arms will now be fined $500 or given 25 hours of community service. Plus, they’ll get six points against their license. 

After that, the fine goes up to $1,000 and another six points against the driver. 

But, the mayor says even that isn’t enough.

"Absolutely not," said Alfrey, "You’re talking about going to a $500 fine. If you go around the crossing arm, you should go to jail."

He says that would get people’s attention and change bad behavior.

Florida is fourth in the nation for railroad crossing crashes, according to Operation Lifesaver. 

"Everybody is just rushing to get somewhere," exclaimed Fisher. 

The rush is a huge risk, when waiting for the train to pass only takes a few seconds.

"Don’t do it. Don’t do it. It only takes seven seconds. You got seven seconds to wait, don’t do it," said a driver. 

It’s not just cars trying to beat trains. People who work near the deadly intersection at W.H. Jackson Street say the dividers are keeping cars from going around the arms, but people are still jumping the tracks when trains are coming.

"I’ve seen people walk around them, a lot of homeless people around here," said Fisher. 

The new law will also apply to pedestrians, and the mayor says he’s still trying to get grant money to update all five train stops in his city with quad gates.

"If we can put all the safety measures we want, but if people are not going to obey the law, it’s not going to matter," said Alfrey. 

In the future, he also wants to establish quiet zones to stop train horns from blasting at all hours of the night.