Gone too soon? Not If We Act Now!

Inattentive Driving and Texting At Schools is a Murder Waiting to Happen.

If you are a parent, work in a school, are around little ones, you need to read this, pass it on, call on people who can take the next step and take action against what is happening or be proactive and save a life today. Truly!

If you have children of school age and you pick them up daily you may have witnessed this already. If you have your kids picked up by a daycare or afterschool provider you really want to pay attention post haste and talk to your care giver.

I have noticed a large number of inattentive drivers. People driving school busses and daycare vans especially. They are texting, talking, tweeting, all while transporting our most precious resources to and fro every day. Disgustingly I see this and worse from parents as well.  Parents what is so urgent that you cannot put down the damn phone and pay attention to your scholar prior to school and/or when school lets out?

It is so sad but the scene is the same at most every school. Kids being tugged into or out of a waiting school, car, van, or buss with an “adult” who is supposed to be paying attention to the child, the surroundings, and be defensive against oncoming traffic and other dangers that could hurt our kids. Instead we are seeing more and more people more and more concerned with their cell phone than what is right in front of their face. A most important gift that one could have guard over, right in front of them and they do not even give a second’s notice or much concern at all.

For example my kids go to a fairly large grade school and each day I have seen countless drivers dropping off and picking up little ones hardly paying any attention to them or the scene around them. Personally now I lost count how many times I have been almost run over or hit by an inattentive person driving a “murder-in-the-making” machine. Sadly this is going to happen if we do not become vocal and proactive now.

We all know how busy the school parking lot and adjoining streets are before or after school. There are cars dodging in and out, dashing little ones paying little attention to the street or vehicles, and utter chaos of varying types and degrees. Adding to this is a high number of vehicles that are designed to pick up a mass quantity of children and deliver them safely from point a to point b in a timely manner. They are not so big on the safe part but seem to be enamored of the time part. I know that the guardian angels of our children are in “overdrive” right now in search of a little break I am sure.

Recently daycares were made to have safety measures in place to make certain children were not being left behind, but what measures do we have to counter these people on phones who pay little to no attention to their jobs?

The answer is we do have laws on the books but without your help to enforce them, they go unused until it is too late.

Wisconsin Inattentive Driving & Texting Laws:

“Wisconsin’s ban on text messaging is already in effect. Wisconsin was the 25th state to outlaw texting while behind the wheel. The new law prohibits a person from driving while composing or sending a text message.  Drivers caught texting while driving face a fine between $100 and $400 for a first offense, and between $200 and $800 for a second violation within a year.  The law also prohibits any other driving distraction than texting -being so engaged or occupied as to interfere with the safe driving of that vehicle.  Any person convicted of inattentive driving faces a fine from $20 to $400.”

But what is being done to enforce the law if we see it happening so plainly in the community?

Some of these vehicles are unmarked, or we do not have the reaction time or ability to get a license plate number, or we simply do not know what to do or when to step in. However we have to realize it is a growing trend that has major consequences if we do not become proactive instead of reactive. As parents or guardians or neighbors of schools, if the school or police are not around these situations, you need to point them out and make people aware that you are watching them and they are not watching the children. Tell them this is a problem and concern of high priority.

If we do not take action before this disaster occurs, we will see the unmistakable display of balloons, candles, and trinkets for some innocent life lost due to something as foolish and idiotic as inattentive driving. A life we could have all saved. We simply have to ready ourselves for this battle before even one child is lost.

  • You can have pen and paper ready in your car or on your person.
  • Mark down people, plates, and/or times and report these things to the school or police
  • You can take photos if you are not driving.
  • You can alert school officials about a constant offender or ask them what they do about inattentive driving and phone usage as a school community. Are they sending out home reminders, standing out on the playground keeping a watchful eye and/or reprimanding offenders?
  • You can ask the driver who they work for if you feel safe doing so.
  • Ask your care provider to see their vehicle and inspect it yourself.
  • Ask for the driver’s information and inspect them too.
  • You can go into any police district and file a report or complaint.

I know the police are busy but I am certain they would take the time needed to be a presence in and around a school if they knew the potential for loss of life were emanate. I would hope that the school and police would work together to possibly set up “stings” and send a clear message that this type of behavior is unacceptable and make some examples of constant offenders in court and on TV so the message spreads.

Additionally some of these vehicles are so desperate looking I wonder if they are compliant for having any human being aboard them. I have seen rusted out bottoms, missing bumpers, no plates or tags, no identifying marks to let people know there are kids on board, just downright nasty looking, and straight hood! Who allows their child to ride in these? But then again the same can be said of the cars we allow our kids to ride in and the fact that some of us refuse to take the couple of seconds to buckle up the kids. I see them jumping all around the car, a handful of kids just playing around and the driver paying no attention. Not to mention we are not teaching our kids any safe habits so they can practice safety measures when we are not to protect them. Just a couple of minutes of inconvenience to be safe could be the difference between a lifetime of misery, and yet we just do not take the time. Ghetto or not, get your head straight and pay attention to the kids in the car. Put the phone down, put a seat belt on that baby, and be about the business of protecting our kids!

Remember those yellow signs “baby on board!” that were wildly popular but not mandatory. I think for daycares and child transporters; we need to make this mandatory. If they are going to engage in inattentive driving maybe we can be a little more careful of them as another form of precaution and also be more proactive against those we see constantly in violation of these laws.

We also need to demand that they have visible phone numbers and appropriate identification on the vehicles so that we can immediately call the right people to report inattentive driving and vehicles in poor condition. AND DO MAKE THAT CALL!! We do this for trucks on the highways, why not for little people? “How’s my driving?” Yes I want to call and let someone know exactly what I think about your driving! Again an ounce of prevention will keep our babies here instead of gone too soon.

Please take a moment to pay attention of what’s going on in the school parking lot. Parents, be a role model and talk to your kids not your friends. Really! Take time to listen your babies and let them know that they have your undivided attention each and every day if not but for the moments it takes to deliver them to and from home or to school. As a community we love to blame everyone else but I see far too many playgrounds in the inner city with inattentive adults and caregivers that are simply in the wrong for their lack of participation in the lives of the youth they were entrusted to care for. Does it sound over the top? Well it should be! We ask for MPS to get all these resources and yet we, the partner in education just whimsically drop off the kids like luggage onto the turnstile. Our kids deserve better but if we are not going to show it, why should anyone else? If MPS is worth fighting for, why aren’t these parents putting down their phones and escorting their kids back and forth as if they were transporting a precious object like say a phone?

I really do not want to say “I told you so” on this story. I really don’t. However we have got to see this as severe as we see all the things we have been fighting for in this state lately. We say our kids are important, yet these daycares, transportation vehicles, and sadly parents or family members are driving nightmares waiting to happen. Let’s be proactive and get these people off the phones and into their jobs of advocating for our children. Kids first!

Peace Family,