There are many reasons to take the train (light rail, the subway): cutting your emissions profile, opportunity for exercise during the walk to and from the station, people-watching opportunities – but for me, it’s a way to get centered, shake off some of the stress of the day, and let my mind wander.
When you’re driving, you don’t want to let your mind wander too far, lest your car follow suit. Driving to work the other day, I noted in my rear-view mirror the fellow in the next lane was drifting awfully close to my bumper. He pulled alongside, and I saw his head was down, almost like he was sleeping. Then I noticed the position of his arms. He had his smart-phone (not a really good moniker in this case) in his lap and was texting while doing 70 on the freeway. He pulled ahead, head still down, and as the freeway started a gentle turn, well, he continued to go straight. (He did catch himself before going completely out of his lane.)
If it were just one texter, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. But there are many, and those texting or on the phone are just a small fraction of those “drivers” who are otherwise distracted from what should be their primary duty of the moment. In my non-scientific but lengthy poll over the last few years, I’ve seen an average of 4.5% of people behind the wheel of moving cars who were actively texting or using a hand-held phone. There’s talk about raising the fines for those who’re caught engaging in those distractions, but until enough people have to pay enough money, I doubt they’ll change their texty-talky ways.