In the span of just three days this month, four pedestrians in the Mid-Columbia were struck by vehicles.
And all of the victims were hit in crosswalks.
That can mean just one thing: Drivers are not paying attention. And that's inexcusable.
The rules of the road exist for a reason, and that's for the safety of all concerned. That's why crosswalks are marked. That's why drivers are supposed to yield to pedestrians.
It's a time of year we all need to make a renewed effort to drive safely. Kids are back in school, and they're not always paying as much attention as they should to their surroundings.
A dirty windshield and driving into the sun this time of year can make for a bad combination. Harvest is in full swing, and big trucks are everywhere.
Take the time to slow down and double-check. Are you just looking for big vehicles when you glance left and right? Don't forget to look for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists -- they're more difficult to spot with a rapid-fire glance, so take the time to give a sufficient look around before crossing an intersection, entering a round-about or leaving a four-way stop.
It only takes an instant of inattention to cause a tragedy.
Surely, none of these drivers was out to intentionally hit someone. But all four did.
Two of them compounded the horror by failing to stop and take responsibility. That's not just callous, but these drivers also managed to turn an accident into a hit-and-run, making it a potential felony.
One suspect has been arrested, but police still are looking for the driver of the truck that slammed into 10-year-old Makayla Messinger as she was walking home from Canyon View Elementary School in Kennewick.
The vehicle is believed to be a 1998 to 2004 white Ford pickup with a white canopy, with front-end damage from striking the fifth-grader.
We hope a tip leads to an arrest. Someone must have noticed the damage and wondered whether it was connected to the hit-and-run.
Better yet, the culprit should surrender to police. It's about the only opportunity to find any redemption for this cowardly act.
Few would be callous enough to leave an injured girl lying in the street, but most of us are guilty of sacrificing safety to save a few minutes.
Pedestrians and drivers alike have roles to play in keeping each other safe. Don't expect that the other is looking out for you or will automatically follow the rules. Always err on the side of caution.
Be mindful of school zones and bus stops. Follow the law and stay off your phone while driving.
We're a culture of multi-taskers, but driving is a standalone activity.
Sure, it's something routine for most of us. And we usually make it to and from our destinations without a hitch. But there's always a chance something could go wrong while hurtling down the road at 60 or 70 mph, or even on the most mundane city street, should a pet or pedestrian make a wrong move.
Be aware, be mindful of your surroundings and keep your eyes on the road. It's up to all of us to keep our roads -- and our citizens -- safe.