Daily Herald opinion: Motorists must do their part to counter a 'societal issue' of deadly crashes

This editorial is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board.

After five crashes in two weeks on Kane County roadways left seven people dead, the top public safety official in the county refused to stay quiet about it.

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain concluded a news release about a deadly Sept. 3 collision by saying the county has had an "atypical" number of fatal crashes. The veteran law enforcement professional also acknowledged that most of them would have still happened "even if we had deputies on every corner of the county."

"I have spoken frequently on the increased lack of responsibility of drivers for the safety of one another, especially since the pandemic," Hain said. "We continue our traffic enforcement campaigns across all 550 square miles of this county, but this is also a societal issue at this point."

We applaud Hain for trying to use the bully pulpit to warn motorists that they need to drive responsibly. It's a message people need to hear, especially after a string of tragic crashes.

The first happened on Aug. 21 when a 60-year-old Maple Park man died while riding his motorcycle near Kaneland High School in Maple Park. A car driven by a 16-year-old girl hit the motorcyclist around 3:10 p.m. as she was making a left turn out of a parking lot at the school.

On Aug. 29, a St. Charles man suffered life-threatening injuries during a head-on crash on Route 47 at Kenmar Drive in Elburn.

Two days later, a car collided with a dump truck on Route 25 in Bartlett, killing two South Elgin High School students and injuring two others.

Then on Sept. 2, a head-on collision between a motorcycle and a car killed three people in Big Rock. Sheriff's police said the crash occurred at about 9:28 p.m. at U.S. Route 30 and Davis Road.

The next day, a two-vehicle collision in Hampshire Township left another person dead.

In that Sept. 3 crash, a 2015 Nissan Pathfinder struck a 2008 Chevrolet sedan at Route 72 and Walker Road. The Chevrolet sedan rolled several times before coming to rest on a property on the northeast side of the intersection, authorities said. A 50-year-old Elgin resident who was a passenger in the Chevrolet sedan died. The sedan driver was airlifted to a hospital in Rockford in critical condition.

On Friday, Hain told the Daily Herald that he is speaking out because it is his responsibility to raise awareness and state facts.

He said he has seven to 10 deputies making 15 to 20 traffic stops across the county during each shift. The department also does enforcement campaigns in crash-prone areas.

But traffic enforcement alone is not enough to prevent deadly crashes from happening.

As motorists, we need to wear seat belts and slow down. We must pay attention and look out for others on the road, including pedestrians and bicyclists. And we have to drive free of distractions and impairment.

Simply put, it is up to each of us to do our part behind the wheel to keep the roads safe.

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