Watch out for kids this summer

By Steve Estes

Today was supposed to be the last day of the 2013-2014 school year, but due to some calendar reshuffling, the youngsters got a break at were able to call it quits for the summer yesterday.

That means summertime. No school. Lots of young children out and about doing what young children do during the long, lazy days of summer.

And now it becomes our responsibility to watch over our children during the times when normally they’d be safe and sound behind school doors.

It’s that time of year again when every driver must be ever-vigilant for young children as they make their way around town. As either makes their way around town.

We, as adult drivers, are supposed to have the attention span of more than the common gnat. That makes our attention span, supposedly, much greater than that of the average young person.

We hope.

Children are pent-up little balls of energy looking for a release. They do typical children things. They run. They jump. They play. Sometimes they push and shove.

And most times, they pay just more than no attention to where they’re headed or what may be coming in a direction other than where they’re headed.

That’s where we come in folks.

It’s up to us to make up the missing gap in attention span.

When driving in residential subdivisions, it is up to us to keep a constant eye out for errant children heading toward the street.

It is up to us to slow down when passing a line of parked cars. Often, the child that might come bolting out from between those cars, innocently chasing an errant ball, or just curious, isn’t tall enough to see over the vehicle and see what’s in the street.

That means we as drivers probably won’t see the little Munchkin behind the vehicles either until he or she darts out from behind the parked car’s protection.

A little less speed and a supreme willingness to slap the brakes at a moment’s notice can go a long way in protecting our little ones.

Public parks and athletic fields will become magnets for small ones as the heat of the summer passes us by and they seek eve-more inventive ways to pass the time.

It will again be up to us to maintain a vigil behind the wheel when we pass such locations.

And neither must we let down our guard when we leave the asphalt and take to the water.

While many adults won’t swim in local residential canals, because they know what goes into those things, children generally have no such compunctions and are liable to spend a lot of time basking in the salt water behind their, or another’s, home.

We can’t get adults to always swim with a diver down flag to warn approaching boaters of their presence beneath the surface. Why would we think kids will always use one?

Slow down in residential canals if you don’t make a habit of doing that already. And be extra vigilant. None of us want to become the lasting memory in a tragedy.

Be extra vigilant in parking lots. Young children have been known to just take off running with all that open expanse and pay little to no attention to what’s going on around them.

And for those of you who drive like you really do own the road, get over yourself.

Yes, when it comes to a contest between a moving hunk of Detroit iron and a fragile human body, it’s odds-on that the car is going to win the final battle.

It’s up to us to make sure that we don’t allow that to happen.

We must also be ever on the lookout for weaving, racing, stunting or otherwise not-always-well-driven bicycles, which are the primary mode of transportation for youngsters in the summer months as parents try to find ways to get the kids to burn off some energy, and the kids seeking amusement.

So we must go back to our roots, so to speak, and remember the lessons we were taught as little ones. We must learn to look both ways whenever we pull into a new street, down a new parking aisle, at every crosswalk and intersection to make sure there are no youngsters lurking about that might, just might, be tempted to do something that puts them in front of our hazardous vehicle.

And like we all did as kids, we can expect today’s youngsters to disobey general safety guidelines and fail to look both ways, fail to walk in a crosswalk, fail to look over cars when entering residential streets.

Be careful out there.

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