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The tragic death of a 9-year-old Taylorsville girl, killed in an auto-pedestrian accident as she walked to elementary school this week, should serve as a reminder to all Utah motorists to exercise increased caution and awareness when driving anywhere near schools.

Traffic and safety officials do an admirable job each year in trying to protect the gaggles of impetuous children who walk to school daily.Flashing lights, painted crosswalks, crossing guards, reduced speed zones and regular traffic signals are pressed into action to protect the children on this often hazardous journey - particularly where major traffic arteries are located.

Motorists can help by driving slower, anticipating problem situations and, in general, granting the right-of-way to the children.

Parents, too, can aid the effort by teaching children proper safety practices and encouraging them to obey crossing guards and pedestrian signs.

While there is no way to guarantee the absolute safety of children who must walk to school, increased awareness and caution on the part of motorists can play a vital role in helping those children arrive safely at their destination.

If there is a school nearby, the rule is: Slow down, be alert, keep an extra-sharp lookout and be prepared to stop on a dime. Anything less could be an invitation to tragedy.