It is sad, really. Two green lifestyle icons--the train and text messaging--have come together to create disaster. Last Friday a Metrolink train engineer in Los Angeles was exchanging text messages with young rail buffs, according to the Associated Press news agency, when it ran a red light, striking an oncoming freight train and derailed. The crash killed 25 people and injured 130 more.
As I have watched this story unfold, along with the investigation into its cause, I recalled that California has passed laws against use of cell phones by drivers, clearly a good use of our legal system. So, how is it that one person using a cell phone in an individual vehicle is illegal, yet the driver of a passenger train, who potentially could kill hundreds, is permitted to use one? I suppose this, too, shall come out in the continuing investigation, although the reports I have seen have yet to mention this. And I could be wrong in my memory of California being one of the states who has banished cell usage in cars.
An article in the Orlando Sentinel on Friday, September 19 shed light on a whole other area of this story that brings more clarity. It seems that there is a whole cult-like group of train fans who have clubs, web sites, magazines, follow railroad frequencies on scanners, hold train-watching picnics and organize group trips via train. Some even memorize train schedules, wear train-related clothing and have videotaped trains in motion. Nothing wrong with this, really. But apparently, these groups have taken their enthusiasm to new heights, text messaging with the engineers, when he should be focusing on his job. Now train buffs are worried that their own right to use phones while on the trains, may be taken away. Yet it is their irresponsible actions which could bring this about.
I am aware that many people use commuter trains in metropolitan areas as a means to get back and forth to work. They often use this time to catch up on reading or phone calls. I can understand how losing this privilege could be a hit for them.
My green tip toe for today: Don't take your privileges for granted. Think about everything you do and how it could adversely affect others around you. When we look at the world from others' vantage points, we often see a different picture. Be safe and be grateful. It's good karma.