Parents and government share the responsibility for information that
can keep a child safe. This is in many areas, but one area - driving
at night - brought some of this home very clearly last night.
Nanci and I drove home from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
last night. As luck (and business appointments) would have it, we
didn't get home before dark, which we prefer.
It's not news that driving after dark is a risky business, for
drivers as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.
We passed children sitting on the edge of the road, using the edge
of raised asphalt as though it were a lawn chair. Another group of
children was playing "tag", or "touch football" or just generally
chasing each other, in the right-hand 1/3 of the travel lane on the
One of the "tag" games was being played at the EXACT spot where a
youngster was recently hit and killed by a pickup truck, going
through the windshield of the truck after being hit riding his
bicycle into the traffic lane - without, as the witnesses said, even
looking to see if there was traffic.
Bicyclists rode two and three abreast, in the traffic lane, wearing
dark clothing, without any lights on the bicycles, without even
reflective tape that can be bought at nearly any ferreteria.
In this part of the country, only about 10% of the people own a car.
Parents using bicycles apparently don't have much knowledge of the
dangers of being around cars, so they don't have much information to
pass along to their kids.
Reflective tape is vital, since there are very few street lights
along most of this route.
There are a few things that could be done:
* provide effective road safety education for
pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the
public school curriculum;
* send information home to the parents through
the schools, urging parents to keep their children
from sitting or playing on the roads used by cars;
* require reflective tape on the front and rear "forks"
holding the wheels of all bicycles, as well as
the back of the seat and both sides of each foot pedal;
* Provide a public information campaign, highlighting
the opportunities for safety when walking or
bicycling on or near roads carrying automobile
Yes, I know this would cost a whole lot more than dos colones. I
also know there are many other areas where child safety - and safety
in general - are important. But if we grab on to something that's do-
able, in one area, the consciousness just may spread to others.
How much ARE children worth?