With school on the way, it’s time for our annual warning to drivers who traffic near student crosswalks. Pay special attention to the next paragraph, because it might change your life.
Slow down and watch where you’re going.
This shouldn’t need to be said. Crossing guards are there to warn you, after all. The crosswalks themselves often are clearly marked. And school children — well, they look like children, for goodness’ sake. Their presence should at least suggest slowing down.
But we know how drivers are. We know the attractions and distractions of smart phones and in-car satellite radios. We know the importance of the telephone calls you carry on, animatedly gesturing with both hands as you attempt to steer your multi-ton vehicle with your knees. We know how important it is to converse with passengers beside and behind you, turning to look at them when you’re making an especially important point.
When you do all of these things, when you indulge in a furtive Tweet or a cackle of laughter with a back-seat driver, you put children at risk. We’re going to repeat that for emphasis, and we’re going to give it a separate paragraph, to boot.
You put children at risk.
Anything that you do in a car besides steer, brake and shift gears can wait. That text can be sent later. The station change can be deferred, the hilarious conversation delayed. The lives of children heading to school can’t wait. They’re precious, and they’re present.
Don’t believe this is a problem? Here’s a number for you: 6,227. That’s the estimated number of pedestrians who were killed in 2018 by traffic, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Let that sink in. More than six thousand people were killed by vehicles last year.
That number has gone up more than 40 percent in a decade. Some 16 percent of all people who die in traffic are now pedestrians. And why? For all of the reasons listed above. For the transition many of us have made from smaller, more compact cars to “safe” trucks and sport utility vehicles. They may be safer for the drivers, but they aren’t for those who walk and drive and live beside you.
This is a lot of space to spend on a simple message. These are a lot of words to use to tell you to slow down in school zones. We understand. We know.
But every single word, every single letter will be worth it if it saves the life of a child.