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Danger: Distracted Pedestrians

Symposium addresses how to keep preoccupied walkers safe around railways

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June 16, 2010
The goal of the symposium is to generate recommendations that will encourage change in pedestrian behavior.

Q&A: Northwestern transportation economist Ian Savage discusses the symposium

EVANSTON, Ill. --- An increase in pedestrian train accidents and fatalities has prompted officials to discuss how to keep cellphone-chatting, iPod-listening, Kindle-reading and otherwise distracted pedestrians safe around trains.

The Northwestern University Transportation Center, along with the city of Lake Forest, Ill., sponsored a Pedestrian Rail Safety Symposium held on the University's Evanston campus.

The goal of the symposium was to generate recommendations that will encourage change in pedestrian behavior and reduce the number of accidents. A recent spike in pedestrian train accidents and the increasing prevalence and speed of commuter trains and light rail vehicles, which often travel at ground level, are of particular concern.

The Transportation Center is a leading interdisciplinary education and research institution at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. It is dedicated to the long-term improvement of domestic and international systems for the movements of materials, people, energy and information.

Lake Forest, with two train stations, is committed to the safety of commuters and residents. Earlier this year, Lake Forest Mayor James Cowhey appointed a transportation safety enhancement committee to recommend initiatives to reduce accidents and enhance safety.

Topics: Campus Life