This weekend traditionally marks the beginning of summer and, even though local students will be in classrooms for a few more days thanks to last winter’s snows, the young ones already are enjoying the warm temperatures and longer hours of sunlight.
That’s reason enough for local drivers to be on the lookout for children — and adults, for that matter — who might not be paying attention even with traffic nearby.
Indiana State Police reported a serious accident Tuesday in Staunton, Ind., that illustrates the need for caution.
A 10-year-old girl pedaled her bicycle into the path of a car driven by a young woman. The driver was unable to stop in time, and the car hit 10-year-old. At last report, the girl suffered serious head, internal and leg injuries.
The driver was not cited, and speed was not a factor in the crash, according to police.
The incident shows how quickly someone can be hurt even when a driver is focused on his or her task. But when drivers compound the problem with distractions — talking on cell phones, adjusting their music, eating, putting on makeup or even just daydreaming — the potential for a tragic accident escalates dramatically.
Even though Illinois passed a law prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, many motorists ignore the rule. Even a short period of watching traffic pass by on a major street will confirm many people continue to discuss their day via a hand-held cell phone when their attention should be on their driving.
Children enjoying the first real stretch of warm weather in the wake of our brutally cold and snowy winter might be a bit caught up in the excitement of finally playing outside to be cautious near the street. The same can be said of those on bicycles, many of whom — especially adults — also ignore the rules of the road.
The only defense for drivers is to stay alert, stay focused and keep a foot ready to hit the brakes. Have a safe holiday weekend.