Trolley System Considers Safety Improvements

The Panama City personal injury lawyers at The Pittman Firm strongly support efforts to keep our community safe. The News Herald is reporting on steps being taken locally to help stem the frequency of Panama City trolley accidents. The need for improvements is pressing, given that 2012 has already seen 6 rear-end collisions involving vehicles from Bay Town Trolley.

Bay Town Trolley is operated by Santa Ynez Valley Transportation, a company owned by brothers Mark and Greg Meeks. Mark Meeks told Herald reporters that construction of pull-off areas is long overdue. The areas would allow a trolley to pull off the road and thus get away from the road in high-traffic areas. A plan to add the feature will be considered at this week's Bay County Transportation Planning Organization. The current proposal would create four pull-offs area: two on State 77 and two on 23rd Street. Mike Nelson, the chairman of the planning organization, suggest the current plans are not sufficient to address all the safety concerns, but it would be a good start.

The current system, according to Mark Meeks, is responsible for traffic backups and delays. He also believes that it creates a safety hazard when the trolleys stop to pick up or drop off passengers in the middle of busy roadways. The 6 crashes that occurred this year involved trolleys that had come to a full stop with their flashing lights activated. Despite this precaution, the trolleys were rear-ended by other vehicles. The crashes have resulted in some minor injuries.

The construction of pull-off areas would create improved traffic flow. In addition, the pull-out areas are necessary to comply with industry standards. Construction costs have not been calculated, but funds from current Florida Department of Transportation projects may be used toward the new project.

Both Meeks brothers have registered complaints regarding the oversight of trolley operations by the West Florida Regional Planning Council. Mike Nelson feels the construction of pull-off areas would be a positive step, but he also shares the brothers' concerns about the current oversight system. According to him, the planning council is not properly equipped to run the trolley system. Nelson believes that local management would be more effective than being managed by an office in Tallahassee and has made shifting oversight away from the planning council one of his top priorities during his chairmanship.

It is important that our region offers residents a range of transportation options. This also means ensuring that the roadways are safe for a range of users, including drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and users of mass transit, like trolleys or buses. Unfortunately, history has shown that many crucial safety changes are not made by those in a position to do so unless they are forced.

If you are injured in a Panama City collision, please contact our accident lawyer. Bringing a lawsuit not only helps you receive the compensation you need and deserve, but it also helps remind companies and individuals that safety must be a top priority.

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