Undated -- It's happening with increasing frequency around the nation: Someone distracted by their cellphone, iPod or other device walks in front of a moving train, according to transportation experts.
It's happening on commuter and light rail tracks, at freight train crossings, and increasingly, on subway platforms
"What we are seeing in subway environments are people preoccupied, distracted with their electronic devices, coming too close and in some cases falling off subway platforms," says Greg Hull, vice president for public safety, operations and technical services at the American Public Transportation Association.
In addition, he says, "people are putting themselves at risk as pedestrians when they cross at grade crossings, be it light rail or commuter rail."
It's difficult to document growth in the trend of distracted pedestrians struck by transit trains because no federal agency tracks such incidents, says Joyce Rose, president and CEO of Operation Lifesaver, an Alexandria, Va.-based, national non-profit railroad safety education group. "We don't have a good handle on that data, and we don't know how big the problem is," she says.
There's been plenty of research showing that pedestrians in general are more and more distracted by their electronic devices. Researchers at Ohio State University estimate that injuries related to using a cellphone while walking doubled from 2005 to 2010. In many cases - as with distracted driving - people do it even though they know it's dangerous.
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