Distracted driving remains a hot safety topic, as it is a known cause of many serious motor vehicle accidents. Most of the focus is on distracted car and truck drivers on the road generally. A recent news article in the Occupational Health & Safety magazine highlights the dangers of distracted driving near train tracks or railroad crossings.
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Train accidents of all kinds can cause catastrophic injuries or even death. There are many factors that can contribute to a train accident, and there are also many players as well as federal and state transportation laws.
Taking eyes off the road long enough to send a text message can also be long enough to miss railroad-crossing signals. The article points to federal statistical data showing that “inattentive drivers contribute to approximately 3 percent of all vehicle-train crashes at highway-rail grade crossings.” Through August of this year, the month of most recent data, there have been 1,247 highway-rail incidents, causing 156 fatalities.
A highway-rail incident, as defined by the Federal Railroad Administration, is “any impact between a rail and a highway user at a crossing site, regardless of severity. Includes motor vehicles and other highway/roadway/sidewalk users at both public and private crossings.” This means that pedestrians, walking and talking or texting from a cell phone near railroad crossings, may be unaware of an oncoming train, leading to catastrophic injury or even death.