Children are not invincible


Toledo Blade: In 2016, the Home Security Advisor recently named North Ridgeville, Ohio, one of the state’s safest cities. With invested police officers like the one who lectured the 18-year-old he pulled over for driving 100 mph, there’s little wonder why.

The unnamed officer in the Cleveland suburb of about 30,000 wasn’t satisfied with whatever tongue-lashing he gave the 18-year-old by the side of the road. He later went on Facebook and posted a message that’s gone viral. At turns, angry, heartsick and frightening, it should be required reading at driver’s license exam centers nationwide.

The officer began by telling the young man “you’re welcome” for the traffic stop that might have saved his life or, if he had collided with another car, someone else’s. He told the “kid” he was lying when he said he didn’t know how fast he was going because, at 100 mph, a driver feels every bump in the road. He mentioned the other kids who thought they were invincible, too, until they died in crashes like this one risked.

He talked about the heartache of telling parents about a young driver’s death. Each time, he says, “part of your soul disappears.”

Speeding ticket

He said he was proud of the speeding ticket he gave the young driver and hoped he would have to spend months paying it off, remembering all the while how stupid he had been. He told him to take to heart his mother’s admonitions to “drive safe” and to imagine the officer sitting in his family’s kitchen, “telling your screaming mother that you have been killed.”

Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty. It’s gone viral, so it means lots of people have read it, thought about it and passed it on. No one ever will know how many more lives the police officer saved by posting this message.

There are lots of programs out there to encourage teens to be safe drivers. But they’re never enough. As the North Ridgeville officer pointed out, kids still believe they’re invincible and do stupid things.

That’s why communities should have zero tolerance for driving offenses by young drivers. Big fines, suspension of driving privileges and high insurance premiums all are helpful. But perhaps nothing beats a dressing-down from a police officer who’s seen it all but still cares enough to treat a random 18-year-old like his own child.

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