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Listen. To what, you’re probably asking; and that’s the problem. We are an overwhelmingly chatty society. And with technology, with Ipods or a Bluetooth in our ear and email at our fingertips, it’s no wonder we eschew quiet time. And sometimes that’s okay.

But sometimes it’s dangerous. Case in point: your commute. No matter whether you’re making the trip from the suburbs to the city via train, plane, or automobile, you’re increasing your risk of injury by failing to keep your ears open. We are a society that prizes efficiency, and technology affords us that luxury. And while most of us know that this 24/7 accessibility is both burden and blessing, we should also know that it monopolizes much of our attention.

Just imagine a day without your Blackberry, laptop, or Ipod. It’s tough to do. And that explains why technological treasures are linked with so many accidents nowadays. According to Injury Board member Craig Kelly, several hundred thousand accidents are caused by cell phones alone! I wrote recently about the heightened concern about texting while driving; texting diverts not just our ears but our eyes as well from the road. I know we all want to have constant communication, but sometimes silence is imperative for safety.

We have had the misfortune of many local train accidents recently. We have lost neighbors in Western Springs, Edison Park, Des Plaines, and the Northwest Side of Chicago all in the past couple weeks. And while the details of these accidents are still forthcoming, we need to do what we can to avoid similar accidents in the future. I have blawgged about train safety before, and it all starts with stop, look, and listen. We look at that as hackneyed advice, but often fail to consider it.

What should it mean for us? For starters, turning down the radio or turning off your cell phone in the car. Likewise, taking out your earbuds and putting down your cell phone on while standing on the train platform. Just last year a Florida woman was struck by a train while listening to her Ipod. These seem like simple suggestions, but take a look around on your commute. We all assume these simple tips don’t apply to us. Newsflash: they do.

It’s time that we pay respect to those who have lost their lives in such tragic accidents during their commute by doing what we can to avoid future accidents. So, on your way home from work today, tune in to what’s going on around you, rather than tuning out with your gadgets.

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