Wednesday, September 05, 2007

vehicle worship

Have you heard of our society's latest trend in child endangering? This topic is one which seemed non-existent when I was growing up. Over the past few years, hundreds of children have died from overheating after being trapped inside vehicles. One of the most recent tragedies took place when a middle school administrator forgot about her 2 year old daughter left in the back seat. The county prosecutor decided not to file charges in that case, although historically, prosecution and resulting penalties have varied widely. Far be it from me to judge.

I have a theory. Above is a photo of my car, a tiny subcompact, nowadays considered ridiculously too small for anyone with kids. It would be virtually impossible for me to accidentally leave a human of any size in that car. First of all, even a baby would take up a sizable percentage of available space in the vehicle. A baby is more noticeable in a Mini Cooper than in a Hummer, just as a cork is more noticeable in a bathtub than in an ocean.

My car, of which I'm becoming increasingly more proud than ashamed, is old fashioned. (The Child remarked in all seriousness that I should have entered it in the local antique car show.) To open or close this car, one must actually stand beside it, facing its windows, and insert a key. The adult in charge of this car is not allowed to rush off, locking it from afar to the fanfare of bells and whistles. My child sits behind me in my car, and if I had ever tried to lock it with him inside, he would have been blatantly visible to me as I stood there fussing with my old fashioned lock and key.

As I read the story of the recent tragedy, I found myself wondering what type of vehicle the grieving mother had been driving. How massive must her machine have been to hide her child?! I don't blame her- she most likely drives what society drives, and I've heard that we're choosing behemoths again, now that gas prices have slipped a bit.

Recently another type of vehicular tragedy took place in my own neighborhood. A woman was backing her enormous SUV out of a parking space after her child's pre-school class. The vehicle sits so high off the road that she did not see the three year old boy behind her, even though she checked her rear-view mirror. Her vehicle hit and killed the little boy.

Again, my vehicle, being very low to the ground, does provide better visibility in such situations. Even a toddler could be visible behind my car. (I'm not cocky though- I always park in such a way that I can drive forward out of my parking space, not having to back out.)

I think that our gas-guzzling habits are hurting us in more ways than we are addressing. I can't change the world, but I can express my opinion and do my part to defy vehicle worship.


19 comments:

Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
That's a very astute observation....relating the size of the car to the person forgetting their child in it. I never thought of it that way. Wow. I'd always put it down to a stressful day.

But your post makes sense. This is one more case for a smaller car. Considering that most cars drive one or two people anyway, why are people buying behemoths...But then again, look at the figures: we have new pickup trucks advertised in the paper for S11,500 while a hybrid car sells for $28,000 or more. I wonder why a pickup truck is cheaper than a compact - and considering that global warming is a reality, shouldn't hybrids be subsidized so that people would want to go out and buy them?

We can't expect Mr.G.Bush to subsidize hybrid cars now, can we? :(( Gore, "The Ozone Man" in Sr.Bush's terms, should have won the election some 8 years ago.

Priya.

Betty said...

Dear Priya,

How wonderful to see you again! You make a good point about hybrids. Bring back the Ozone Man!!!!

Hugs,
Betty

simply me said...

Beautifully said Betty. God I just don't understand a small petite woman with one child could need a huge SUV, like those big cadillac ones (I'm not into cars so I don't know brands to much).
My son is often embarrassed by my old Honda Civic with 115,000 miles in a community filled with very fancy and expensive SUV's. I'm sorry, but I don't want to spend all my money on Gas and I love our planet.

Betty said...

Dear Simply Me,

I don't know if you can tell, but mine's a Honda Civic also- nearly 200,000 miles. I find myself "explaining" my car, even to the child's friends, as if I owe the world an explanation for being sensible and considerate of the planet. My goal is to get over my embarrassment, and your understanding helps!

Hugs,
Betty

GarnetDavid said...

good post, b. -a good sign that you are proud of your little carlet. and another chance to use your favorite word, behemoth!

Betty said...

Dear Garnet,

Yes, I admit that I am fond of the word "behemouth" and relish the opportunity to use it. However, I hope I never drive one. And "carlet" is a nice word, too, which I guess you made up...

Hugs,
Betty

Lisa said...

Betty,

Excellent post. I also chalked it up to the stress of trying to rear a child and work at the same time. She probably had a million and two things on her mind. I'm pretty sure she was driving a large mini van or suv of some kind, so your point is absolutely valid. I just feel really, really sorry for her. I honestly do.

This brings up another issue that needs to be addressed...and I'm sure I'll get some "boos" on this one...but women should be allowed to be stay at home moms, even if their husbands leave. There are way too many kids that are in desperate need of proper parenting. I'm not sure if she was a singe mom (it looks like she was), but trying to juggle work, kids and a home takes way too much out of women today. I don't know how it could be done, but there'd probably be a lot less Lindsays and Britneys around wasting our tax dollars.

And amen to you, Priyamvada. Does G.B. even know how to pronounce "environment"?!?

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

I hope you're feeling OK!!! I've been thinking of you...

You know, I agree with you about allowing women to stay at home with her children. I had saved enough money so that I could stay home a year after my son was born (my job couldn't be held for me any longer). I was lucky to be able to do that, especially without the income of a spouse! A year weasn't long enough. I did my best mothering during that year, because I wasn't pulled away by the distraction of my job.

More info has come out about the mother I mentioned in the post- she was married, actually (Phew! We single mothers didn't need another strike against us!) and she had been reprimanded in the past about leaving her baby in the car/behemouth!

Hugs,
Betty

Kacey said...

Hi Betty--- Good post, but I'm so torn on this particular issue. I hate it that a child died in a hot, hot SUV, but the mother was beside herself with grief and remorse. She was an assistant principal in Ohio --- it was the beginning of the school year --- she had to get her 5 year old off to school --- drive the 2 year old to the daycare --- get several boxes of donuts for the meeting at her school and take them into school, then move the car to the parking lot. Since the child had fallen asleep, the mom's brain slipped a cog and she left her in the car. I saw the film of her sitting in the police station, crying and saying, "I tried to be everything to everyone and I failed my own child". Women today are trying so hard to do it all and I am so sorry for this sort of horrible mistake. I heard a woman on the radio say that the government got into our cars and demanded seatbelts, then airbags (which are dangerous for children), then demanded carseats must be in the backseat where we can't see the children. A baby could quietly choke to death in the back seat and you would never see it happening. We need some discretion about what choices we make in rearing our children. I raised three without carseats, seatbelts or airbags and they are still alive and healthy. I would use some of these things, but not all if I had the choice.
The best thing I have heard is for young moms to put their babies in the back seat and then put their purses back there, too. She wouldn't forget her purse, for sure!

Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

That's a great suggestion, for mothers to put their purses back with the baby! Isn't it sad that we'll forget our children before we forget our purses!

Yes, the government has done it again. So much for freedom of choice. The seatbelt issue is controversial- data does not support government edicts. And I have never been in favor of separating baby from parent like that in a car. I often defied that law myself, even though my car is so small it hardly mattered!

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Good Sunday afternoon the 16th to you Betty ! How are you doing ?

Very good observations - unfortunately you have a brain, compassion and ethics. I do not believe that anyone who leaves a child - or a pet - in a car of any size, genuinely does....

Thank you for commenting on my Mhmmm Yes erotica blog, b.t.w. -- 4 times since August 1st !

I couldn't stop writing after all... sigh. My hormones wouldn't let me :)

You are a dear.

I left you a link in today's 'thank-you's.

*cyber hugs and smiles*
Loving Annie

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I'm glad you didn't stop writing on your Mhmmmmm... blog. I'll be visiting!

Hugs,
Betty

Loving Annie said...

Good Wednesday evening to you, Betty !

I look forward to it !

*cyber hugs*

Hope that you are having a good week, and that Boy is enjoying his time at school !

Loving Annie

simply me said...

Hi Betty - Just stopping by to see what's new and wish you a good weekend. Hope all is well with you.

Lisa said...

Hi Betty!

Just checking in. Hope your busy and staying well...you haven't posted in awhile and I wanted to make sure you were okay. :)

Loving Annie said...

Hello on Sunday evening the 23rd, Betty !
Hope that all is well with you and The Boy, and you have simply been to busy to update.
Would love to read your news when you have time to post again !
*cyber hugs and smiles*
Loving Annie

Betty said...

Dear Simply Me, Lisa and Annie,

Thank you for your concern! I've been OK, just busy and exhausted. I can't wait to have the time to blog again, and I'm not sure exactly when that will be. It's so nice to be missed!

Hugs to you all,
Betty

Desiree said...

I agree Betty! I drive a little car too and do so for most of the same reasons you pointed out. I don't even get why people would want one of those huge gas guzzlers in the first place!

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