October 2, 2003
Metro pushing for rail safety awareness
When light rail is involved in traffic fatalities
increase 10 fold
11:07 AM CDT on Monday, October 6, 2003
By Jeremy Desel / 11 News
HOUSTON -- Houston's new light rail is starting
to hit the tracks with testing underway. But how does the
area's newest mode of transportation rate on the danger scale?
Federal records show some disturbing statistics.
Accidents between light rail trains and cars or buses happen
in the cities that have light rail.
That's why Metro says that illegal moves such as jaywalking
across the tracks are trouble.
Sidney Harris ran across Houston's light rail tracks. She
thought about the potential danger, but jaywalked anyway.
"But I had to come across the tracks," she said.
"What other choice do you have?"
Angela Anderson didn't think twice about walking across the
tracks. "I don't know," she said. "Maybe because
I know it's not working right now."
But it is. Live track testing is on at all hours of the day
You don't have to tell 15-year-old Santi Davies of Portland,
Oregon, how dangerous the super quiet trains can be. "I
think I was unconscious when I was hit by the train and pulled
under the train," she said. "But when I woke up
I was under the train and people pulled me out."
But not before she was dragged 80 feet. She lived, but many
others have not been so lucky.
The Department of Transportation says last year there were
4.4 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle-miles traveled
involving buses. For heavy rail there were 3.2 fatalities.
But light rail had 42.3 fatalities, more than 10 times either
of the other transit options.
Metro knows that safety is important when it comes to adding
a new element to the traffic mix. That's why it is trying
to reach out to the community with ads and brochures. But
so far not many folks have seen anything. "No. I haven't
seen that," said University of Rice student Osman Nal.
"I don't think that there is any kind of danger related
to it at all, as long as you have the precautions"