(CBS) — More people than ever have been killed or injured by trains in Illinois and elsewhere, and safety advocates said it’s largely because of people being distracted by using their smartphones and other mobile devices.
“Distraction can be deadly,” said Joyce Rose, president of Operation Lifesaver Inc.
WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Operation Lifesaver said 107 pedestrians were killed or injured by trains while walking on or near tracks in Illinois last year; the number was more than 900 nationwide.
Rose said the increase is due in part to modern technology.
“People spend way too much time looking down at their phones, and not enough time paying attention to what’s going on around them,” she said. “We certainly have anecdotal evidence to support that that’s a big part of our problem.”
Railroad engineer Russ Fletcher said he sees it all the time as he’s driving his train.
“We see people with their heads down, and you know that they’re texting,” he said. “We see people with earbuds in, listening to tunes or whatever.”
Fletcher said if people crossing or walking near railroad tracks are busy with their smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices, they’re not paying attention to a train that could kill them.
Operation Lifesaver has launched a new campaign to warn people to pay attention when crossing or walking near train tracks.