School is finally back in session across the state of Kansas, which means it’s also time to remind those of us who drive to keep watch for children in the road.
Yes, in many sections of the state children are learning online, but that makes our words of caution even more important. Your attention isn’t just needed around school zones or certain neighborhoods — you need to pay attention wherever children might live. Almost any neighborhood in any town, at most times of day, could see school-age children playing in their yards or darting across the street.
We admit, this editorial is a yearly feature on these pages or your screen of choice. But when school begins each year, we attempt to bring the message to you in a fresh way. Because we simply can’t risk the lives and health of our next generation to inattentive drivers.
The real challenge here is that the mere act of driving distorts our perceptions.
Think of it this way: If you’re walking down the sidewalk and lost in thought, you might not see a tree branch in the way. The instant that leaves or twigs tough your head, you will instinctively react by ducking or stopping in your tracks. The speed of your walk allows you to act in ways that preserve your safety.
When you’re driving, however, the speed and insulated nature of a car, truck or SUV will work against you. You can’t feel the leaves brush against your head and have time to adjust. Indeed, a moment of tragedy might arrive and pass without you even noticing. You will feel safe and protected inside your moving box, but those in the outside world aren’t so lucky.
School-age children have their own concerns and considerations this year.
Online learning presents tremendous challenges and hurdles. Youths learning via laptop or tablet are cooped up in their homes, often with a parent who might be working remotely. Or they might be with a grandparent or relative who’s less familiar with the involved technology required. Or they might be on their own, navigating an empty house.
During breaks in these lessons, why wouldn’t children want to let off some steam outside? Why wouldn’t they want to run around? And why wouldn’t they trust that drivers in their neighborhoods act responsibly?
Please, pay attention. Near schools, far from schools, wherever children might be.