One Saturday afternoon, at the corner of Grove Street and the block on which we live, my daughter was nearly killed. Read it again: nearly killed. A driver who was too impatient to stop and wait behind the rare driver who actually did obey the law and stopped for pedestrians in the crosswalk, almost killed my daughter. It happened so fast, I didn’t even have enough time to register the make and model of the car, let alone whether the driver was a man or a woman.
We were walking towards the crosswalk, close the shoulder. My five year-old was tired after a play date and wasn’t listening to me. She was refusing to hold my hand. She was refusing to walk on the other side of me, away from the traffic. That’s when this maniac sped around the driver who was kind enough to wait for us, and almost took us out. I would love to know where this person was going in such a hurry. What’s so important that it’s potentially worth a child’s life? What errand are you running? To which all-important social event are you heading? Is 30 seconds going to kill you? Is 30 seconds worth killing someone else?
I doubt the person who almost killed my daughter will read this. But you are. And right now there are efforts in Montclair to reduce traffic fatalities and ensure safe walking routes to schools. This isn’t the first time a driver has come close to hitting me and my daughter. Whether they’re rolling through the stop sign in front of the Starbucks at Church and South Park as we head to dance class, or passing on the shoulder while people are stopped for pedestrians, the whole town seems to be in a massive hurry.
Since I live on a corner lot, almost every day from the sanctity of my backyard I witness cars who ignore pedestrians. Like the one who almost killed my daughter. Every time I get off the bus from work I count the cars that speed by me and the other pedestrians waiting to cross Grove Street. It’s rarely less than five. It’s often more than ten. What if that were your husband or wife? Or your child? Would you stop? Well, I’m your neighbor and I’m asking you to stop. Please. I’m that scared.
Maybe this is why so many parents find excuses to not let their children walk to school. Perhaps they’re scared too.
What’s it going to take? Legislation? A police crackdown? Speed bumps? Rumble strips? Another road sign? A death? There are Safe Routes to School workshops still planned for this month and beyond. Next Wednesday is Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day. Montclair is participating. The aim is to have zero traffic fatalities for one full day.
Please. I beg you. Get in involved. Slow the hell down. You are going to kill someone.