I’m Sorry, But I’m Going to Take a Moment to be Judgmental.

The last time I drove behind this particular late model sedan, I was irritated. This time I got mad.

Let me explain.

About three weeks ago I was driving my kids to school and ended up behind an erratically driving sedan. They drove between five and 12 miles per hour and turned on their turn signals at seemingly random times.

There were three little kids in the backseat. And none of them were wearing seatbelts. I could tell because they were jumping around and poking each other.

I try really hard not to be a judgmental person. I don’t want to be the asshole who is telling other people how to live their lives. But this kind of made my skin crawl. Because not only were these kids unprotected in case of a car accident, but the woman driving was such a bad driver that it was like she was asking to be hit.

It seemed that there was an elderly couple in the front seat, so I made a little wish that they were filling in for the kids’ parents and that was why they didn’t have car seats. And they were bad drivers because they rarely drove.

I made up a whole little story about them. I had time because I followed them to the school, through the drop off line, and back up my street until they finally turned onto a side street. And they drove erratically the entire time.

Fast forward to today. I turned onto the street leading to our school and cursed the car ahead of me that was driving nine miles an hour. Then I saw the three kids in the backseat, bouncing happily around all over. And I realized it was the same car.

I don’t know who these people are. Short of jumping out of my car and accosting them at drop off if I happen to see them again, there is nothing I can do.

I just think of all the people who die in car crashes—my father was one of them—and how many lives are saved if people just put on their fucking seatbelts. These are kids. I wish their drivers would look out for them.

19 thoughts on “I’m Sorry, But I’m Going to Take a Moment to be Judgmental.

  1. As an EMT, I might be a little biased with this advice, so take it for what it’s worth. I would get their license plate number and call the police station. They probably won’t get a ticket, but they would get a “friendly” call and maybe that would be enough to put the kids in their car seats. If only people could see the difference a seat belt makes in a car accident… It’s quite amazing and infuriating (when the kids aren’t belted in). My friend is a paramedic and will report every single car with “bouncing” kids.

    ~C

  2. I’m a self-styled car seat Nazi so this kind of thing drives me batty! I’ve got my 7-year-old strapped down in a Britax Husky still. He might whine and complain about not being in a booster, but at least I know he’s most likely staying put in the event of a collision…

  3. Oh, Anon, what a *fabulous* idea! I think that would be GREAT!!! And, what if you even got to see them get a talking to in line at school?!?! That would just be icing on the cake. I’ll bet they’re totally grandparents who don’t think about seatbelts at all because they’re not going far and the kids are just going to get out, it’s more trouble than it’s worth, blah blah blah. Maybe the parents don’t leave them carseats. Who knows. But they DO need to be in carseats, because one morning someone may run the stop sign and rear end their sluggish behinds because of the unsafe speed they’re travelling at. I once had an uncle get pulled over for going too slow, actually (he was 80).

  4. Forget being judgmental. I count it a blessing that someone is looking out for those kids. I have been known to call 911 when traveling behind cars in similar situations. Absolutely, without hesitation, make a report. Whether you call 911 or take numbers and call the police when you get home, please, please do the right thing for those kids.

  5. Totally NOT judgmental! You can actually (while at a stop sign or traffic light, please) take a photo on your cell phone, call police non-emergency # and report them. You can also report it to the school authorities discreetly so they can investigate. They’d be up sh*t-creek if something happened on school property and they were aware of the situation.

    See, you paint yourself as this laissez-faire slacker mom which you SO are NOT! Good, Stimey! :-)

  6. I read this last night and couldn’t get it out of my mind. I came back this morning to suggest calling the police which I see others have said, too. Our town newsletter often has a blurb about calling the police when you see unbelted kids. I think it is the right thing to do. You can call now with a description of the car and with the fact that they are at your school’s drop-off/pick-up on a regular basis. I don’t think this is being judgmental at all. Good luck.

  7. I agree with the first commenter. Here there is a non emergency number you can call about things like that….you’re only looking out for the safety of the children.

    I got to a stoplight one time and the car next to me had a 6 month old sitting in their LAP in the FRONT SEAT. I wanted to go slap them senseless.

  8. A few years ago, I was hit by a car that blew through a stop sign. It was in a residential neighborhood, so we were both going quite slowly, but the lady that hit me had two kids in the back of her minivan who were not in car seats. Her husband called our house, pleading that we not report the accident, but just the fact that she was not paying attention in a residential area with her kids loose in the backseat was enough for me to say, “Hell no.” She could have hit a kid on a bike, or if she was going faster, killed me, not to mention hurt one of her own unbelted kids. So stupidly reckless.

  9. NOT judgmental at all! Hey, I’m all for everyone doing what works for their own family but this is just dumb-assery. I like C’s suggestion a lot. Calling the police might feel weird to you but you could literally be saving these kid’s lives by doing it.

  10. You might even go into the school and mention it. My guess is the school may know who this family is and if so, they are mandated to report any suspected child endangerment. I’m not saying it’s willful, as one of your commenters did say there is a possibility the grandparents just aren’t up to snuff with the safety laws, etc. However, bottom line is it is child endangerment and that is in fact, against the law. Also, if they do not have a car seat and an investigation is opened, there are agencies they could then be connected to who will provide the necessary gear they obviously need. So there is no “down” side to reporting the issue to the authorities. It is highly rare that any child is taken away from their parents based upon a single phone call. Your involvement may serve as a catalyst to get the family some help as well as keep those kids safer in the future.

    FYI All child protection agencies accept anonymous referrals. All you have to do is call and say “Hi, I am calling with an anonymous referral” and they must take it from you. They will try to get your name/address, but you are under no requirement to give it. Maybe that will help anyone who is on the fence about reporting.

    Okay, removing my social worker hat that is on very tightly right now… : )

  11. Here is where you KNOW how old I am. Seat belts were not the law until I was pregnant with my son. That was the first time I ever wore one because all of a sudden I was responsible for another human being. Car seats for kids are simply being responsible for someone who is too young to be responsible for themselves.
    SHEESH! You’d think people would get it by now!

  12. I hate when I see kids without car seats or in seat belts. I can only imagine how crazy it would be to drive with kids crawling all over the place.
    The fact that you saw them twice driving without seat belts/car seats, and driving poorly at that, I think warrants something. Maybe the school would know how to handle it, or I’ve called the non-emergency police number in the past with a license plate number for the same situation.

  13. People let kids free-range in their cars? Good grief, how do you DRIVE like that? I can’t even imagine not strapping my guys in. Andy doesn’t like his and likes to slip the shoulder straps off, and I FREAK. What if he did that and we got hit? AAAAAAA!!! What is WRONG with those people? And what drug are they on???

  14. I like the idea that your first Anon had – most people treat driving like a right as opposed to a privilege that must be earned. And when taking other people’s lives into the mix, there has to be responsibility which clearly isn’t being done. Maybe this hasn’t dawned on them that this is dangerous (srsly, maybe not).

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