Heed warning of this crash survivor

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The young man stood on the southwest corner of Prairie Avenue and Atlas Road just after 6 p.m. Saturday, watching his mashed Subaru being pulled onto a tow-truck trailer. He was shaking slightly but insisted he was OK, though his car most certainly was not. He said nobody was seriously injured in what looked like a horrific crash of the Subaru and a Jeep that failed to yield, which seemed a miracle judging by the damage to both vehicles.

Looking at the crushed metal and shattered glass, the young man expressed his gratitude and good fortune while traffic was slowly diverted by sheriff’s office personnel. He said he had been on his way to Skate Plaza with four children in his car. An intended fun evening of healthy activity had come to a jarring halt at one of many busy Kootenai County intersections where accidents like this one — and worse — seem to happen too often.

Just last year, The Press published a number of stories and commentaries about intersection crashes that could so easily be avoided if drivers simply slowed down, rather than rushed to beat a yellow or blast through a red light. What emergency led to Saturday night’s near-disaster, what rush to get from point A to point B, is difficult to imagine. Maybe the crash was the result of some distraction that, in this age of constant connection to social media, seems to lure attention anyplace but where it belongs. Authorities say a distracted driver in Spirit Lake rear-ended another vehicle Saturday afternoon, and that vehicle struck a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk. The pedestrian was seriously injured.

This shouldn’t be so difficult. When you’re driving, that’s where your focus needs to be. When you approach an intersection, be prepared to slow down, not speed up. Safety must always be the foremost consideration.

And that’s pretty much what the young man at the intersection of Prairie and Atlas said Saturday evening. Told that he was speaking with a reporter taking photos of the scene, the young man was anything but defensive or argumentative.

“Good,” he said. “I hope it makes people slow down and pay more attention.”

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