Is this parent over-protective?

We got a letter in the mailbox today, apparently sent to everyone on our street. We live on a fairly narrow, but busy suburban street, with a shopping centre one block away, and a primary school two blocks away. The letter asked all drivers to please be careful coming out of their drive-ways. The letter writer’s 10 year old son had been cycling home from school along the footpath (Children under 12 are allowed to ride on the footpath and he would be crazy to cycle on the road, given how busy and narrow it is.), and hit/ been hit by a car coming out of its driveway. Luckily, the boy was not hurt beyond a few bruises. The letter said he rolled over the bonnet of the car, so I wonder if he hit the car, and went forward over the handle-bars of the bike onto the bonnet, but I don’t actually know what happened.

God knows, I am happy the boy is OK, and I don’t want to hit a kid when I’m coming out of my driveway. There are are kids much younger than 10 using the footpath, so it does behoove us drivers to be careful. But I was a bit put off by the letter, all the same. Did the parents tell their kid to be careful of driveways, I wonder, or do they just expect everyone else to dodge their kid? Isn’t 10 years old old enough to take some responsibility for looking out for cars? I don’t expect a 4 year old on the footpath to even consider the possibility of a car coming out of a driveway, but a 10 year old seems a little different to me. I thought it was a weird over-reaction to send letters to everyone in the street telling them to be more careful. But maybe I am the one over-reacting.

I don’t think it’s so overprotective. A really overprotective parent probably wouldn’t have let their kid bike home alone. Plus, having your kid get hit by a car is a pretty horrifying thing to have happen. I can see why they’d want to make sure that didn’t happen to anyone else.

If I were that parent I’d be upset enough to write that letter. Sure, a 10-year-old should be careful, but the driver was still responsible.

It doesn’t seem like a horrible thing to use a near tragedy to remind people to be aware of the neighborhood kids. I’m guilty of forgetting to be extra careful on neighborhood streets (although I seem more likely to pull out of my driveway when the joggers are going by).

And I’m sure the parents told their kid to be careful of cars. Cars and kids are a belt and suspenders thing - you can’t have kids unaware of cars, but you can’t have cars unaware of kids.

Fair enough really - bit OTT perhaps but bottom line is everyone who reads that letter is likely to take more care pulling out.
Not sure how big your drives are, but if there’s no space to turn around it’s good to remind people to reverse in and drive out. Reversing out is obviously not recommended, particularly if kids are playing.

No, it’s not overprotective at all. It’s just a reminder, not an accusation. This is no different than when my apartment building sends us the summer letter about rules regarding kids at the pool.


If the letter had been sent out because a driver had encroached within 10 feet before stopping, that would be overprotective. A letter after an actual incident like that seems pretty reasonable, although I would hope the kid would get a lecture too.

She sent a letter instead of a lawsuit? How refreshing. Must not be in America. (Also, we don’t have bonnets over here).

Seems very likely to me that the parents have told their kid to be careful of driveways. And yes, 10 is old enough to take some responsibility for looking out for cars. Having a driver’s license means you’re old enough to take some responsibility for looking out for pedestrians and cyclists, too. Not knowing the details, it’s impossible to say who’s at fault, but I don’t think a letter such as you describe is out of line.

Jesus, the kid got hit by a car! Cut the parents some slack. Sure, a 10 YO should have some sense of responsibility. You just go right on hoping for that. :slight_smile: They get distracted, or whatever, and it is incumbent on the supposedly mature adults to keep an eye out.

It’s even overprotective now to send out a polite letter after your kid got hit by a car. Goodness gracious. And yes, I think you are totally overreacting! Imagine if it was your kid.

I think it’s kind of a refreshing reaction to a lot of other things she could have done. She could have demanded the local police go door-to-door to warn neighbors. She could have demanded the town put up warning signs.
I for one would have appreciated a personal letter like that. If I’m not used to seeing kids on my street I’d for sure pay a bit more attention when pulling out in the future. And I was asked nicely to, not threatened, which goes a long way.

Maybe I’m just not reading enough in detail, but I don’t see it stated as fact that the kid did get hit by the car. For all I can tell, the car was stopped at the end of the driveway, and the kid ran into it.

Just a case where making any blanket statement over insufficient facts is just foolishness.

I don’t see how it’s any different from a letter that said “A few cars have been broken into lately on our street. Please keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.”

There was an accident. A child was hurt. Fortunately it wasn’t serious. Reminding everyone to be conscious of bicycle traffic seems like a reasonable response.

There is something wrong with those parents. It was their responsibility to teach their child to ride a bike responsibily. It was their responsibility to make sure he was prepared for people pulling out of driveways in cars. It doesn’t even sound like he was hit by a car, but that he ran into it. Either way, these parents aren’t admitting to their own failiure and trying to blame the problem on others. Their actions are in no way protecting their child. Drivers should already know that they have to look out for pedestrians and pedallers as they pull out of a driveway. The letter isn’t going to have any affect on those who don’t, and I would guess at the same time they are reinforcing in the child the idea that someone else was responsible for his failure to be careful.

I thought the kid ran into the car. The car would have to be pretty far out for the kid to go flying onto or over the hood.

The OP doesn’t say that the driver was backing out, just pulling out. Imagine the driver pulling forward towards the street, running late for something and going too fast, comes past a hedge and sees the kid on a bike. Slams on the brakes but it’s too late, the kid can’t stop in time and tumbles over the hood. If he’d been 5 feet faster he might have been hit by the front of the car, if he was 5 feet slower he might have stopped in time. 10 year olds aren’t keen on running into cars, and they’re usually pretty good at riding bikes. I don’t see any sense in blaming the kid here.

This isn’t about blaming the kid. Unless the kid ran into the car while the driver was pulling out carefully, the driver of the car is at fault. The question is if these parents are acting reasonably.

In a time when every house had a person home all day, this news would have spread over the backyard fences through the neighborhood without need for a letter, and people would have internalized the message of “Bob down the street hit little Timmy on his bike - I guess I should be sure to watch out for that, too.” Unless people in your neighborhood normally pass this kind of information on to one another daily, I think a letter is just substituting for this process.

I don’t follow. You said the kid was responsible for “failing to be careful.” You also said the parents are responsible because they failed to “teach their child to ride a bike responsibily.” You’ve blamed everyone but the driver. All I’m saying is, it’s very likely the driver was at fault, and it’s also very likely the the kid and his parents are completely blameless.

The way the parents sent the message to everyone suggests a healthy attitude to me: “Hey. This was an accident. It could have happened to anyone, no one is the bad guy, here’s a reminder to be more careful”

And frankly, “fault” doesn’t matter much. I can’t imagine thinking “well, the kid should have been more careful” would really be much comfort if the accident ended in tragedy. I’d never get over being part of something like that, even if the kid was wearing all black at midnight on a black bike and I had looked three times and honked my horn just in case.