Our View: Taking Care Behind the Wheel

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The news on our highways of late has been nothing short of tragic. Six people have died in four accidents in less than two weeks.

On July 24, Miriana Feketova, 21, Nina Huskova, 22, and Monika Grigova, 23, Slovakian women who worked in Steamboat Springs, died in an accident with a truck on Colorado Highway 9 in Summit County. The next day, Francis Fry, 69, of Steamboat Springs, was killed in an accident on the same highway just five miles from where the women died.

On Saturday, William Rosewater, 58, of Golden died in a rollover on Elk River Road. And on Monday night, an Indiana truck driver died when his truck rolled off U.S. Highway 40 at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass.

In addition to the fatalities, 11 people were injured, several of them seriously, in the four accidents.

These accidents are a reminder to us that no appointment is so urgent, no event so great, that it is worth risking our lives or the lives of others to get there.

The roads on which these accidents occurred are narrow, winding and sometimes steep. They often do not have improved shoulders. And the number of vehicles on the roads is increasing.

Given those circumstances, our instinct sometimes is to blame the roadways. And undoubtedly, we would like to see new pavement, widening, improved shoulders and better signage on the roads where these accidents occurred.

But such improvements take years of work and millions of dollars. Besides, it's not the roads that cause accidents. It is our responsibility to drive in a manner dictated by traffic and road conditions.

Take Colo. 9 for example. Colorado Department of Transportation data show traffic on the road has nearly doubled in the past decade. But the same statistics show the road is only slightly more hazardous than the average Colorado highway.

"It is safe to say for two-lane roads, it isn't our worst two-lane road," Joe Hurt of the Colorado State Patrol said of Colo. 9.

Rather, Hurt said, we make the highway more dangerous than it is. Drivers speed. Drivers pass when they shouldn't and don't pay attention like they should. Some don't wear seat belts. Some drink and drive.

Traffic accidents are reported with such frequency in the news that we can sometimes lose sight of the devastating impact they have. In this case, that was the loss of six people -- people who were sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, sons and daughters.

We mourn for the accident victims and their families and hope and pray that this series of tragic accidents has run its course. We can help make that happen by being a little more patient behind the wheel and respecting the traffic and conditions on our highways.

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