AT RANDOM: Driving the point home

There's a need to slow down and pay attention while driving

Put your hand up if you feel nervous about  your kid(s) walking to the bus stop or school.

Do you cringe every time you have to pedal your bike along a busy road in town?

I feel your pain.

This is not the confession of a helicopter parent who cannot handle giving her children their much needed independence, or someone who loathes outdoor recreation.

Heck, I would love to boot my kids out the door in the morning and not see their smiling faces again until the sun sets. In fact, I would love to join them on a leisurely bike ride around town every day.

But we live in a different world, and this world includes way too many distracted and speeding drivers.

Can’t we figure out by now that an average 4,000-pound heap of steel, aluminum, copper, glass, and rubber, steered by a distracted person in a rush, is as dangerous as a sniper in a war zone. A human on foot, or two wheels, doesn’t stand a chance against a moving vehicle.

A paramedic recently told a friend of mine that if someone was to run 20 feet full force into a closed garage door, it would be the same as someone being hit by a car that is barely moving.

The carnage caused would be similar.

I see scary driving on a daily basis, as I live only a few blocks away from a local high school. Gone are the days when those “lollipop” men and women, with their stop signs and reflective clothing, steered school children across busy avenues. Nowadays, you basically have to stand at the side of the street jumping up and down to get a driver’s attention to slow down and stop.

I know because I have had to do this myself on more than one occasion at our local crosswalk.

I have also resorted to what could be deemed as child abuse – grabbing the back of my poor kids’ collar, practically choking him, or side swiping my daughter with the old fashioned version of a seat belt – that being my arm – to stop them from stepping off the curb as some harried driver flies by at 60 kilometres an hour – in a school zone.

It’s getting really frustrating.

My kids, who are eight and 11, are at an age where they really don’t want their crazy, paranoid mother following them to school everyday. They are starting to leave without me, and who can blame them?

But I don’t think I’m being paranoid, as I have seen, and heard of, too many close calls.

Last Friday, one of our local seniors, a pedestrian, was hit by a car at a crosswalk. We don’t know all the details yet, but it happened in broad daylight. Thank goodness this person survived the ordeal.

Then there were the two cyclists travelling along Buchanan Road who were hit by a car and thrown from their bikes. One of the cyclists suffered a concussion.

I realize that police resources are stretched pretty thin and they obviously can’t be at every school zone or monitoring every street. But perhaps the city or school board could help out a little, whether gathering volunteers to man busy school crosswalks, or improve some bike lanes and crosswalks by re-painting them every year, or adding lights, bells and whistles  – whatever it takes.

Maybe we should get more realistic with our signage: “Watch the road, not your cell phone!” “If you go over 30 kilometres in a school zone, you may kill a kid.” “See that bike on the side of the road? It has just as much right to be here as you do.”

Or maybe we, as drivers, should start slowing down and looking ahead before another pedestrian or cyclist gets hurt, or is killed.