Driv­ing home a point

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL -

You may not know RCMP Const. David Bour­den, but you should take his ad­vice se­ri­ously. Very se­ri­ously, es­pe­cially if you own a mo­bile de­vice.

“Ev­ery­one has a phone these days and (has) be­come more con­cerned with check­ing Face­book or tex­ting their buddy than keep­ing their eyes on the road,” he told the Tele­gram’s Rosie Mul­la­ley re­cently. “That’s when crashes oc­cur.”

Take him se­ri­ously, es­pe­cially if you’re an im­pa­tient driver who takes risks just to leave slower mo­torists in your ex­haust.

“Peo­ple think they have to get out and pass ev­ery car in sight,” Bour­den said. “It’s just to gain those ex­tra cou­ple of min­utes, but it’s not safe.” Take him se­ri­ously, es­pe­cially if you still refuse — decades af­ter it be­came law – to wear a seat­belt.

“It’s a huge part of the whole equa­tion,” Bour­den said.

He has a wealth of wis­dom on high­way safety, be­cause he’s worn two hats — the peaked cap of the RCMP as a col­li­sion an­a­lyst, and the hard hat of a civil en­gi­neer who once worked for Trans­porta­tion and Works.

There are few peo­ple as qual­i­fied to talk about the causes of high­way col­li­sions and car­nage. In the Oct. 27 Tele­gram, Bour­den shared his opin­ion on Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way, which has seen a large share of tragedy in its 24-year his­tory, most re­cently on Sept. 11, when three peo­ple died in a head-on col­li­sion.

Bour­den doesn’t be­lieve the prob­lem is high­way de­sign or the ab­sence of pass­ing lanes, as many sug­gest.

“There re­ally are no big (struc­tural or road de­sign) is­sues,” he said, adding that the high­way is in good con­di­tion.

And he wasn’t mak­ing that judg­ment af­ter a trip or two along the 40-kilo­me­tre stretch of road be­tween the Trans-Canada and Con­cep­tion Bay North.

Bour­den was sta­tioned at RCMP de­tach­ments in Bay Roberts and Har­bour Grace for years, and cur­rently pa­trols the road from time to time out of his Holy­rood base.

He knows it like an old song.

“I’ve driven it at ev­ery time of the year and I can hon­estly say there is no area where I can say,

‘Oh this is a bad spot,’” he told Mul­la­ley.

That’s why he’s con­vinced the crashes and fa­tal­i­ties are the re­sult of driv­ing er­rors, like be­ing dis­tracted by phones or food, be­com­ing im­pa­tient with other driv­ers, or not buck­ling up. To be­lieve these is­sues are lim­ited to Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial would be fool­ish and dan­ger­ous.

There are re­ally sim­ple fixes for these road er­rors. Put your phone away while you drive. Chill out if you’re slowed by an­other driver or feel pres­sured to reach a des­ti­na­tion faster. And reach up over your shoul­der, grab your seat belt, pull it down and fas­ten it.

Tak­ing those ac­tions won’t cost you a cent. Not tak­ing them could cost you your life.

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