Slow Down Around the Kids!

Summer is almost upon us and with its arrival the kids will be out of school and all over our neighborhoods and streets once more. Thus, it’s imperative to remind ourselves again that we need to slow down and step up our vigilance around them, as we drive around Houston. Sadly, that lesson was brought home tragically in southeast Houston Sunday night, May 4th, when an 8-year-old boy was killed while riding his bike in the 8100 block of Lenore during a visit to his grandparents. He was trying to cross the street when the 58-year-old male driver of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup apparently approached him at a high rate of speed and struck him. Residents performed CPR on the little boy until an ambulance arrived, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Numerous witnesses reported that the pickup driver was speeding and, even though he stayed around, he was arrested by investigating officers on a charge of driving while intoxicated after he confessed to drinking “a couple of beers” before getting behind the wheel. With the boy’s death, those charges will likely be upgraded.
Ignoring for the moment the obvious stupidity of driving while impaired, this tragedy is a stark reminder that slowing down and being more careful around our kids is not just a nice thing to do, it’s an obligation that if violated has horrific consequences. Exceeding the speed limit is a criminal violation and driving faster than is reasonable for the circumstances is negligence. Either one exposes a driver to liability for injuries or deaths caused by resulting collisions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), report that in an average year, some 4,280 pedestrians are killed in auto-pedestrian collisions and another 70,000 are injured. The most frequent victims are Americans over the age of 65 and children under the age of 10. And, a staggering 47% of such incidents involve alcohol. Indeed, the Association for Psychological Science reports that such accidents are the leading cause of death nationally for children between the ages of 5 and 9.
The reason for this is that kids lack the judgment, motor skills and distance perspective to avoid calamity in or around moving traffic. Adults are so used to the concept of maneuvering to avoid injury that it’s taken completely for granted. However, like most human physical abilities, the skills to master it are acquired over time, with lots of practice. Kids have neither and they are therefore especially vulnerable. Proper supervision of them, particularly in proximity to traffic, can be a big help, but just as important is the need for drivers to slow down and be vigilant in any area kids are likely to be, especially around parks, amusements, shopping areas, fast food restaurants and similar places. School zones have very low speed limits for a very good reason. And, just because school’s out is no reason to punch the gas pedal.
Kids need us to be more careful because, well being kids and all, they don’t often know how to do it themselves. Please don’t make a child forfeit his or her life and wreck the rest of yours because saving a few minutes in getting someplace was more important than giving the little folks a break. Slow down, Houstonians… and please give our kids a chance to have a safe and happy summer!