Deadly Drivetime

27 Jul

Letterbalm Mom at Steering WheelDear LetterBalm: I saw something yesterday, totally dangerous behavior that horrified me. I was out shopping at our local mall, and I saw my daughter’s good friend with her three-month-old son. She was driving her SUV with one hand and her infant on her lap between her and the steering wheel. I suspect a lot of people witness this and don’t know what to do, either. Everybody has an opinion about parenting in public, but they don’t want to interfere or come across as nosy busybodies. I know the woman well enough, but I’m not sure what I should have done about it. Should I have yelled at her, said something to my daughter, or what? I lost a good friend in a drunk driving accident, so I’m particularly aware of dangerous driving.

–Alarmed Onlooker

Oh, busybody away, my dear. Ms. L.B. believes these situations call for you to become a fearless champion, unconcerned about the reaction of others. A child is in danger. You might have followed the mother to her parking spot or waited until she finished her shopping and approached her. In these circumstances, the key is to keep calm and non-judgmental. Speak slowly, no shouting. But you want to stress the urgency of the matter and the fact that you are sensitized to dangerous driving because of the loss of your friend. In this case, call the mother and tell her you saw her yesterday. This is what you might say:

Claire, it’s Jean Jones, Crissie’s mom. I was out shopping at the mall yesterday, and I saw your SUV pull in. I hope you don’t think this is intrusive, but I have to tell you that I was concerned that little Evan was on your lap, not in car seat in the back. Claire, I know you’re a busy mom these days, but even a short drive of a few blocks with an unsecured child endangers him and you. Please consider what I’m saying because I lost a dear friend in a car accident, and I’m sensitized to unsafe driving. I know you wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself if anything happened to Evan.

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