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posted: 6/5/2012 3:58 PM

Editorial: Fatal bike accident is a summer warning to all

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

There's no snow and cold to slow us down these days, and kids are out of school.

The coming weeks will be a whirlwind of trips to the pool and to the ice cream shop and to attend parades, parties and festivals.

It seems, we're all so much more mobile this time of year.

But a fatal accident last week involving a preteen riding a bicycle serves as a stark reminder of dangers inherent with more mobility.

One day into his summer vacation, 11-year-old Jose Zamudio was struck by a pickup truck. The Round Lake boy, who would have been an eighth-grader in the fall, was not wearing a helmet when he rode into traffic on busy Rollins Road. He died from severe head injuries, according to the Lake County coroner's office. Police said the driver of the truck had a green light.

"It's (Jose's death) such a shame," said Constance Collins, superintendent of Round Lake Area Unit District 116 where the boy was a student.

It's more than that -- it's a horrible tragedy.

The details of such an accident raise enough red flags that we urge parents to talk to their children and establish rules to keep them safe.

In fact, most of what should be said is good advice for people of all ages.

That talk should start with the need for everyone to wear a helmet when riding bicycles, skating or skateboarding.

Each year, more than 500,000 people in the United States are treated in emergency departments for bicycle-related injuries, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are roughly 700 deaths annually.

Protecting your head in a fall to the pavement should be a priority. Riding, walking or running on the roadway must also come with a realization that this is a dangerous environment, one dominated by heavy, fast-moving vehicles and controlled by signals, signs and rules of the road.

Respect them, understand them and use good judgment. Your safety requires that you are paying attention and are aware of your surroundings.

It's tough to do that if, for example, you are riding, walking or jogging with earphones blaring in your ears. Listening to music on your iPod may be a good way to pass the time while on a run, but it also may prevent you from hearing the vehicle coming up from behind or being able to focus on what's happening around you. Whatever your route, your equipment or your activity, make sure you are not distracted from thinking safety first.

Last week, reflecting on an early-season tragedy and a series of accidents, some involving alcohol, that resulted in several injuries to kick off the boating season, we urged boaters, swimmers and skiers to take care on the waterways,

The sad death of Jose Zamudio serves as a reminder that children and adults alike must take similar precautions to stay safe while on dry land.

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