Subways, Trains and Distracted Pedestrians Are a Bad Combination


October 29, 2013

While it might seem obvious that electronic distractions like iPads, smartphones, iPhones and tablet computers can be dangerous when a person is walking in the vicinity of railroad tracks or a subway train, there are an increasing number of pedestrians being struck by moving trains.  According to a recent article in the USA Today, many transportation experts are convinced that accidents in which pedestrians are struck by trains on subway tracks, freight train crossings and light rail tracks are on the rise.

This trend is consistent with recent research that indicates collisions involving distracted pedestrians generally are becoming more common.  A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University that was reported in the USA Today article found that the number of pedestrian collisions involving distracted walkers doubled between 2005 and 2010.  Another study recently conducted by the insurance carrier Liberty Mutual revealed that six in ten people admit engaging in distracting activities while walking, jogging or running.  Nonetheless, seven in ten people surveyed admitted that they knew that engaging in distracted behavior as a pedestrian was dangerous.

While there is no national database that tracks pedestrian train accidents, Greg Hull from the American Public Transportation Association stated, “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.”  Hull urges all pedestrians to avoid using electronic devices or engaging in other forms of inattentive behavior when crossing a commuter rail or light rail crossing.

While text messaging is one form of distraction that can cause a pedestrian train accident, there are many other types of cell phone-related distractions that can result in a pedestrian being struck by a train, such as:

  • Emailing
  • Talking on the phone
  • Web surfing
  • Reading an E-book
  • Checking Facebook and other social media websites

Despite the lack of federal data tracking pedestrian train accidents, a recent study conducted by Northwestern University provides some indication that these incidents are not as rare as some might assume.  The research revealed that in suburban Chicago a pedestrian was hit by a train every ten days with more than half of these fatal train accidents being accidental.

When someone dies in a fatal pedestrian train collision in Georgia, the entity that operates the train may share responsibility for wrongful death depending on the circumstances.  Even if the pedestrian was inattentive at the time of the fatal pedestrian accident, this does not necessarily relieve the railway company from liability, though the insurance company for the private or public train operator may try to shift blame to the pedestrian.  The rail operator cannot necessarily evade responsibility for their own negligent behavior simply by establishing that the pedestrian who died was also negligent.  The key will be the relative degree of fault allocated to each party whose negligent conduct contributed to the train accident. 

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a pedestrian train collision, our Atlanta train accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are committed to seeking fair compensation for victims.  Our Georgia personal injury lawyers are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. 

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.