Do you have a teenage boy who attends Avon High School? Does he occasionally walk south on Lovely Street to school in the morning? Would you continue reading this article if I told you I almost killed your son last week as I drove past him one Thursday morning on his way to school?
I drive down Lovely Street on many mornings to bring my fifth grader to Thompson Brook School. My kids and I often joke that, “Lovely Street is not lovely.” In fact, it's more like the Indianapolis 500 during the morning rush hour. I struggle to adhere to the 40 m.p.h. speed limit, with a trail of irritated drivers behind me who would rather travel at 50 (or even 55) m.p.h. during their rushed commute to wherever they need to be in the next two minutes.
Two weeks ago, after that dump of fresh snow had fallen, I was bringing my son to school around 7:45 a.m. I had just passed Yorkshire Drive on the left. At that point, the road curves to the right a bit, before Hollister. As I rounded that curve, I passed a boy who was walking south, towards Hollister. He was walking on my side of the road with his back to me and the rest of the southbound traffic. He wore a grayish blue-patterned sweater and gray-colored pants. In the dim light of a winter morning, he blended quite subtlely into the blurry gray of the snowy wooded area behind him. He wore white earbuds in his ears – I could see the cord traveling from his left ear to the MP3 device he carried in his left pocket.
Because of the recent snowfall, the shoulder of the road was narrower than usual. This boy's path was frightfully close to the cars traveling southbound, at the speed of at least 40 m.p.h., right beside him. As I passed him, I believe my right side-view mirror whizzed within 18 inches of his left shoulder.
He was oblivious, ambling peacefully along Lovely on his way to another school day, listening to his tunes.
I was incredulous at the staggering risk this boy took. Earbuds in, unable to hear the traffic approaching him from behind, walking with his back to the cars traveling 40-50 m.p.h. If he stumbled over a stick, tripped on uneven pavement, or if the driver of a southbound car looked down for a moment to catch a cup of spilling coffee – any of these things could all too easily have lead to death or devastating injury for this boy.
In retrospect, I wish I had turned back and stopped him to ask who his parents were. I should have called them, then and there, and offered him a ride to school. I decided to submit this piece because it's all I can think to do to bring parents' attention to this potentially fatal circumstance.
We parents live in a world in which we're struck breathless by emotionally crushing stories about tragic mass shootings, alcohol-related car accidents, teen suicides, and other horrific twists of fate that we desperately try to prevent in the name of our intense love for our kids.
Sometimes the most imminent dangers to our children are closer to home, and much more likely, than we might ever dare to imagine. Please, PLEASE talk to your children about walking to school safely.