Distracted walking may be responsible for train deaths

First there was distracted driving, when someone behind the wheel of a moving vehicle pays an inordinate amount of attention to something besides the road. These days, it’s usually cell phones, and more specifically, cell phone texting.
The people that pay attention to such things tell us distracted driving is responsible for untold numbers of deaths each year. In response, most states — including Michigan — have made texting while driving illegal.
Now, some of the same people that warned us against distracted driving are telling us about distracted walking. And once again safety is the issue, specifically safety on and near railroad tracks.
According to The Associated Press, railroads are launching a new public service campaign to highlight the dangers of being on or near train tracks after the number of trespassing deaths jumped last year by 47, or 11 percent, to 476.
In Michigan alone, there were 30 such pedestrian deaths between 2010 and 2013, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
The nation’s attention was focused on the problem on March 21 when a pair of California teens were struck by a passing train, despite the fact the train’s engineer operated the engine’s horn for at least 30 seconds before the accident.
One teen died in the incident and a second was injured. It’s unclear why either didn’t notice the approaching train.
We applaud the railroad industry for taking proactive steps to address this problem.
If one life can be saved as a result, it will be well worth whatever effort is invested.