Key Points of This Article:
- Streetcars are coming back to Tampa, but many locals don’t know streetcar laws.
- There were at least 17 streetcar accidents within 14 months in Tampa.
- If you collide with a streetcar, you’ll need a good lawyer.
In the early 1900s, Tampa had one of the largest streetcar systems in the country. But by the mid-1940s, streetcars fell out of favor across the nation and were removed from Tampa roadways.
Tourism brought streetcars back to our city. In 2002, Tampa resurrected a 2.7-mile streetcar line between downtown Tampa and Ybor City. Although the streetcar is primarily a tourist attraction, Tampa officials are now conducting a feasibility study to see if streetcars could be a workable solution to address traffic congestion and environmental concerns.
Today’s Tampa residents seem to have mixed feelings about the re-emergence of local streetcars. They might be good for visitors, but are they good for everyone else in our city?
Streetcar Crashes and Safety Concerns
A streetcar crash earlier this year emphasized the issue of safety. In February 2020, a streetcar collided with a bus at the intersection of Channelside Drive and Franklin Street downtown. The impact was strong enough to knock the streetcar off its tracks and send the streetcar driver to the hospital with minor injuries.
Ultimately, the streetcar operator was found to be not at fault for the crash. In fact, the accident triggered a public advisory from the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) reminding Tampa citizens to beware of streetcars and drive safely near them.
There were a total of 14 significant streetcar-related accidents in Tampa in 2019, and by February of 2020, there had already been 3 more. HART studied the causes of these 17 accidents and determined that the streetcar operators were not at fault in any of them.
It seems that so far, Tampa’s streetcar danger mostly arises from other drivers who aren’t aware of them or don’t know how to interact with them. Do you know Tampa’s streetcar laws?
When in Doubt, Yield to the Streetcar
Tampa transportation officials want everyone to remember this fact: The streetcar has the right of way. That’s why there are now bright yellow signs at streetcar crossings that say, “STOP FOR STREETCAR” and “LOOK” with bidirectional arrows.
The signs tell drivers to look out for streetcars before proceeding and to stop when necessary, in accordance with the law. The bidirectional arrows also remind drivers to look both ways in areas where streetcars travel back and forth.
In addition, Tampa officials are handling numerous public complaints about electric scooters traveling along streetcar tracks, increasing the risk of collisions. HART has been contacting scooter companies urging them to warn their users to stay clear of the tracks and beware of streetcars.
After a Streetcar Accident, Seek Legal Representation
Like it or not, streetcars are probably here to stay in Tampa. The City of Tampa is working with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and HART to apply for a federal grant to expand the streetcar system in the coming years.
If you collide with a streetcar in the streets of Tampa, you’ll need good legal representation. So far, streetcar operators have been held blameless for collisions in our city and it could be difficult to prove your case. Contact a local lawyer who has experience with road accident cases and has a thorough knowledge of Tampa streetcar rules.
When Results Matter, Call Kemp, Ruge & Green of Tampa Bay
When you have legal questions, connect with a Tampa Bay lawyer. The attorneys at Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group handle many areas of personal injury law, including those related to streetcar accidents. We believe you should only have to work on getting well, while we worry about using the justice system to protect your rights. We give our clients the best possible results-driven service. You pay us only if we win in injury cases. Call 877-941-4878 today for a free consultation.