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Give crossings a second look

Unfortunately, stepping from this world into the great beyond has become as easy as stepping into a crosswalk along the Wasatch Front. A tragic proliferation of auto-pedestrian accidents reiterates the need for greater care on foot and behind the wheel.

It also indicates the need to make pedestrian crossings - in school zones and elsewhere - more visible and to enhance penalties for drivers who refuse to stop or who speed through.Part of the rising danger for those afoot stems from the increased traffic on secondary roads and streets due to I-15 reconstruction. That has especially threatened schoolchildren along many routes, who often walk along busy roadways in rush-hour traffic. They often travel on dark mornings this time of year because of daylight-saving time.

Those factors too often create a deadly combination.

Drivers also continue to speed through too many school-crossing areas, sometimes oblivious to their whereabouts and to the preponderance of nearby children. There are more than 100 such school crossings in Salt Lake City alone. Youngsters often are careless as well, darting into streets in front of oncoming vehicles to their own peril.

Parents should be mindful of such hazards and, with school personnel, emphasize the importance of staying on sidewalks and crossing within marked crosswalks or at intersections. In some areas, parents have begun car-pooling to ensure their students arrive safely.

Crosswalks should be well-lighted and, at school zones, have flashing lights, bright signs and orange traffic cones. Portable speed bumps could be used more frequently to snap drivers out of a negligent stupor.

These and other means should be employed to ensure safety. But there is no substitute for taking and teaching extra care to anyone needing to navigate traffic on foot. It pays to take a second look before stepping into any street. The life saved may be your own or your child's.