Assume Cars Won't Stop

Published: Saturday, Nov 24, 2012

Our kids love going for walks in the neighborhood. We live in a nice, safe neighborhood with lots of streets but also lots of sidewalks. The kids will ride their trikes or we will push them in the stroller. It’s fun for the whole family. However there’s one thing that’s really starting to bug me, and it’s not what I would have expected: overly polite drivers.

I’ve been trying to teach Eli about looking both ways before crossing the street. When we get to an intersection, we stop and I ask Eli to look both ways for cars. If there are any cars coming, he knows to wait because he “doesn’t want to get squished.” But more and more we run into the situation where the oncoming driver, in some misguided attempt to be polite, stops to let us cross and refuses to go until we cross.

Just stopping, in itself, can be forgiven. But almost every time this happens, the scene quickly gets ridiculous: I motion them to drive on by waving them past, and they wave at me to cross, and I wave at them to say “No really, you go on”, and they stubbornly refuse, so on and so on. It would be comical if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

Why don’t I just cross? Because I want the kids to learn not to cross until it’s 100% clear. Now just to clarify, I’m not talking about crosswalks. A lot of states, including Virginia, mandate that cars must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. What I’m talking about is your typical, neighborhood intersection. But even in crosswalks, I don’t want our kids to assume the cars will stop, because that’s not always the case.

Before you think I’m crazy, take a look at all these stories about kids being hurt (or almost hurt) by cars while crossing the street:

So to all those drivers out there who think they’re being nice by refusing to drive on when motioned to do so, cut it out. I appreciate you slowing down or stopping, but once I indicate you should drive on, please just get on with it. I wan’t our kids to learn a healthy distrust for cars and assume they won’t stop.