The vehicle slammed into the teenage girl who went flying up over the hood. Her arm was broken and she suffered severe bruising on her left side where she was struck. Her mother knew that her daughter could have easily been killed at that crosswalk on her way to school.  

This happened in Penticton last week, and it could happen in Invermere any day if motorists aren’t careful and paying attention. In fact, there have been several close calls, according to residents.

Slow down, pay attention, and don’t drive distracted. These are three simple rules that motorists should remind themselves every time they get behind the wheel. Too often drivers become complacent because everything is routine. They are late for work so they speed up a bit. They glance at their phone when it “dings.” They’re impatient because a slow driver is holding up traffic. Somebody cuts them off and they’re angry. Their minds wander to an argument at home or to an intimidating boss. It happens. But hitting someone, especially a child in a crosswalk, will bring your world crumbling down. It’s a horrible feeling, and the consequences could be dire.

One resident in Invermere reported that he witnessed a van come within a half foot of hitting two elderly people at the three-way T intersection on 10th Avenue and 12th street. Some people may consider the three-way intersection of 10th Avenue and 4th Street to be a hazard since it only has one crosswalk (on the least busy north side). It really should have a crosswalk on all three sidewalks because people routinely jaywalk on the other two sides of this intersection.

Other areas are also accidents waiting to happen – the four-way intersection of 13th Street and 8th Ave. Vehicles coming east along 13th come down a steep hill and often travel at speeds in the range of 70 to 80 km/h. Several close calls have also been witnessed here. 

The four-way intersection of 4th Street and 7th Avenue is also bad; four or five years ago there were three separate incidents of pedestrians being hit while crossing here.

All it takes is a moment of inattention and people’s lives are changed forever. Families are devastated by grief, and motorists are forever haunted by guilt. 

The Coroners Service reports there were 56 pedestrian deaths in BC in 2021, that’s a rate of 1.1 deaths per 100,000 population. 

We are all responsible for the safety of people on our streets, even those who flout the rules and put themselves in harm’s way. As privileged drivers we have an obligation to ensure that our actions never compromise the safety of anyone, especially pedestrians, since they are not protected by four sides of reinforced steel. That 14-year-old girl in Penticton could have been your daughter.                           

Lyonel Doherty, editor, Steve Hubrecht, reporter