WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Can distracted drivers dodge young cyclists?

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During a BBC radio news report recently, I heard an announcer talking about groups who had gathered to discuss having President Obama impeached.

While those of us in the journalism business make our share of goof-ups, most of which we can laugh about, it somehow gives you a good feeling knowing someone who draws a big-time BBC paycheck can louse things up just as easily as anyone.

In a recent letter to the editor, a writer made some very good points by providing facts and figures to substantiate his claims that if guns were to be taken away from people, stabbing rates would go up.

I did some extra research and found additional data.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report during 2016, some 374 people were killed with rifles, including AR-15s or similar types, while about 1,604 people were killed with “knives or cutting instruments.”

Further, about 656 people were beaten to death with “hands, fists, feet, etc.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,154 people were killed in distraction-related car crashes during 2013.

Also that year, 10 percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 involved in fatal accidents were reported to be distracted while a quarter of teenagers respond to at least one text message every time they drive. Twenty percent of teens and 10 percent of parents report having multi-text message conversations while driving.

Last week I was among the media crew that covered the active shooter training exercise at North Johnston High School.

The event was designed to help prepare Johnston County emergency responders and school personnel to be as prepared as possible should a crisis similar to the one that occurred in Parkland, Florida, occur here.

The exercise was extremely realistic and most participants said it was a true learning experience for them.

What I learned from attending the session was something I already knew.

During my years in the news business, I have spent lots of time around television news photographers covering various events.

Without naming names or going into reasons why I feel as I do, I can say that, while not in all cases, most news photographers tend to be real jerks.

Things I observed last week only tend to reinforce my feelings.

I don’t think their goal was to be jerks when they first got into the business; things just seemed to turn out that way.

I have a number of friends who are TV photographers and many of them feel the same way I do.

Anyway, to avoid further scandal, let’s move along to another topic.

National Bike to School Day, designed to encourage youngsters to ride their bicycles to school, was held on May 9.

Sadly, although promoters certainly meant well when first setting this day up in 2012, it would be difficult to celebrate it now in most places.

Unlike conditions years ago when fewer cars existed, mostly safe roads and drivers who did not text behind the wheel, we now have four-lane highways coupled with the fact that most kids do not live close enough to schools to make bike transportation a viable option.

From first through sixth grades, I was among those fortunate enough to make the trip almost every day both to and from school on my bicycle when it was not raining.

In that era, riding a bike to school was both practical and safe — and certainly much more fun.

Too bad that is no longer the case.

Keith Barnes, a Wilson storyteller and author, is news editor of the Kenly News, where this column originally appeared.

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