I've been losing a bit of sleep over this and since the internet seems always so forthcoming with unsolicited advice, I thought perhaps I'd solicit some and see if together we can solve an odd problem.
Every day I drive my youngest daughter to daycare, 20 minutes away, then drop Harper off at school. In the afternoons, Harper gets picked up first and then we ride out to pick up Devon. There are several routes we could take to get to Devon's daycare, but the one I finally settled on has the least amount of traffic and seems to get us there and back the fastest, even if it isn't precisely the shortest drive. Shortly before we get to the neighborhood where her daycare provider lives, we drive along about two miles of windy, slightly hilly 2-lane road. It's not mountainous or anything and not full of crazy dead man's curves, but is just hilly and windy enough that there is no passing allowed along it's entire length. There is no shoulder anywhere.
After this road we get to a light and make a left onto a larger, divided road that has a wide shoulder on both sides. A few days ago, I noticed, as we turned onto this road, a young mother and two little girls—I'm guessing around 5 and 7 years old—walking along the shoulder. Since the girls had backpacks, I assumed they were coming home from school, though, knowing where the nearest elementary school is from that spot, they had already been walking quite a ways. Then as we drove back along the two-lane road, they were there, trying to navigate the non-shoulder. The little one wasn't paying much attention and as I came around the curve and they came into view, she was well into the road. If I had been distracted by anything at that point, I would have hit her.
I have now seen them every day this week, and yesterday, despite my vigilance as I was driving, I felt I came too close to them again. I am terrified something is going to happen to one—or more—of them. Since I have driven this same route every day for over a year and this is the first I've seen them, I'm assuming that mom has lost her car for some reason. I would think the kids would be on a bus route, considering how far they are walking, but there are clearly circumstances I do not know at play.
The most obvious thing would be to offer them a ride, but I only have room for one more person in my car, not three. I am never in a position where I can pull over and ask if there's any way I can help - divided road or no shoulder. I can't be sure what school they are coming from (or even if they are coming from a school) so it seems less that helpful to blanket all the area schools with letters or calls saying, "There are two kids who need a ride but I don't know who they are." The mom might not even accept a ride from me - even if I had a nice big mini-van and had the room - because who the hell am I? Hell, I'd be scared to get into my car if a strange woman approached me and offered me a ride. It's full of used tissues and trash that I'm too lazy or busy to get rid of. It looks like a junkie's car, except for the cute kids in the back.
So, I'm stuck. I don't know what to do. Maybe there's nothing I can do. Maybe she'll get her car back soon and it won't matter anymore. But the thought of a little one being hit by a car on her way home from school is plaguing me, and if there is something I can do I want to try to do it. I just don't know what it is.