We can teach smart lessons or stupid ones

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There will always be those who never notice how they appear to others when it comes to their actions versus their stated intent.

Recently, I drove along a local riverfront road that has a really great walking/riding/skating trail and noticed a loving parent with two youngsters who were riding their bikes.

Mom was wearing a baseball cap and was decked out in her riding shorts and a blouse. The kids, also dressed in shorts and short-sleeve tops, were dutifully wearing their bike helmets because mom "said so," no doubt.

So what are the little ones learning at an early age? Mom says helmets keep you safe. So, mom, what's with the cap? This little vignette is played out just about every day with walkers, bike riders, skaters and runners.

On the road I see a thirtysomething with his two kids in the back seat strapped into their car seats. That's good. However, dad is talking on his cell phone in one hand and munching on french fries with the other, so he has to use his left knee to steer.

What have our two little passengers learned today? When they grow up, they can multi-task behind the wheel just like daddy -- maybe with even more gadgets to distract them.

The same driver comes up on an intersection with the light red for his direction of travel, but since no one's coming from his left he doesn't even slow down, much less stop, and turns right. By the way, he doesn't bother to use his turn signal either. Another helpful driving lesson for the kids.

The other night on cable news, I watched a police dash-cam capture a bullet-bike rider who had fallen off his motorcycle, rolling past the patrol car at high speed. The amazing thing was when he stopped, he was able to get up and walk, seemingly unharmed.

The lesson here is not that he lost control of his bike, but that he was wearing leathers that did a great job of protecting him during his disaster moment.

A few minutes later, another motorcycle with a man and woman on board comes by. He's wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt and she's wearing a spaghetti-strap sleeveless top and shorts. The point is this: Have you ever seen what asphalt does to someone thrown off a motorcycle when so much skin is exposed?

Let's face it. So much of what we do is a teaching moment even if we don't realize it. It's up to us to make it a positive, and safe, message.

DAVID COLMANS IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE GEORGIA INSURANCE INFORMATION SERVICE. CONTACT HIM AT (770) 565-3806 OR BY E-MAIL AT DCOLMANS@GIIS.ORG.


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