Recent accidents reinforce importance of driver safety


October is upon us, the new school year is in full swing and residents are holding on to the final few weeks of warm weather before we break out warmer coats and holiday decorations.

Farmers are burning off their fields, schoolchildren and teachers are adapting to a shorter school week and families are settling into their fall routines.

We’re fortunate in Wyoming to be able to enjoy all four seasons, and these seasonal changes, while welcome, also reinforce the need to exercise caution when we drive.

As farmers harvest their fields, they often drive large, heavy tractors and farm equipment on county roads and highways. That means other drivers must watch for large, slow-moving farm equipment and pass with care, without creating additional hazards.

The return of fall also means the wrapping up of highway construction. Projects already have begun winding down across the state, and drivers, worn out after a summer of inconvenience, are finding their patience wearing thin. Aggravation can lead to carelessness at times, and we all need to do our part to be aware.

A recent spike in crashes has brought a tragic reminder of just how dangerous driving can be. There have been two fatal wrecks outside of Powell in just the past week: A 72-year-old Cowley man was killed a week ago Tuesday when his truck rolled over on Lane 5 just north of town; exactly a week later, a 20-year-old Powell man was killed after striking a beet truck west of Ralston. In between those two crashes, another accident occured just outside of town requiring an ambulance ride to PVHC for those involved.

While the causes of these accidents are still under investigation, we all should remain alert and watchful whenever we drive, especially in areas where construction or an abundance of large trucks are present. As the weather cools down, children spill out of their classrooms and homes to play outside, trying to enjoy their final days of nice weather — and sometimes in the streets as well. Small children may forget to look for traffic when they follow a ball, are walking with their friends home from school or crossing our busier streets on their bikes, skateboards and scooters. At times kids (and adults) forget to look for cars, or they may stray into traffic when they lose control of their bikes or are talking or texting on their phones.

For those of us, young and not-so-young, who are prone to multi-tasking with their cellphone while driving: Please don’t. You’re putting your life, and the lives of others, at risk.

A reminder: It is illegal to text while driving on Wyoming highways, regardless of age or driving experience. And within the Powell city limits, a cellphone ban while driving is in place, and has been enforced.

Fall and winter driving poses a different set of challenges, and even in good weather, we must remain vigilant. It’s a beautiful time in Wyoming, with harvest festivals, football games and the changing of the leaves on the trees providing a source of wonderful adventures and memories as we head into the holiday season.

Please make it a safe one by buckling up, putting down the phone and staying attentive on the roads.