Need­less griev­ing

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Is it still con­ceiv­able, in 2011, that some­one rides in a car with­out at­tach­ing their seat belt? Un­for­tu­nately, yes, as the death of a young Galt stu­dent, Matthew Cloutier, trag­i­cally demon­strated last week. Last sum­mer, we pre­sented in these pages a story on the Sûreté du Québec’s trav­el­ling show that went across the prov­ince, where a man­nequin was thrown out of a spin­ning ve­hi­cle. It is not a pleas­ant sight to see. Made of cloth, not of flesh and bone, the ob­ject pro­pels it­self from the car and lands a good dozens of yards away.

Can we blame his griev­ing seven­teen year-old sis­ter? Route 108 in Saint Cather­ine-de-Hat­ley was icy that day; she lost con­trol of her car when an­other car swerved on the icy road. She will live with this for the rest of her life; pun­ish­ment enough.

Which brings us to a ques­tion? Why is it that, in 2011, in the ob­ject that most peo­ple will ac­tu­ally use daily, spend­ing count­less years ma­nip­u­lat­ing it, that schools do not teach stu­dents how to drive a car? Are we missing some­thing here? Learn­ing how to use a com­puter is manda­tory; we have yet to see one kill some­one, yet learn­ing to drive a car is left to the good will of those who want to drive a car? We think that we are missing some­thing in the rea­son­ing.

Would a manda­tory driv­ing course, in the third level of high school ( when most dropouts quit school) have saved young Matthew Cloutier’s life? We will never know. Would it have pre­vented 23 year-old Dany Trudel from be­ing high on drugs when he killed his six­teen year-old cousin while driv­ing? Maybe, maybe not.

But it would have im­proved the driv­ing skills of Matthew’s sis­ter and of thou­sands of other young driv­ers, giv­ing them a bet­ter chance of grow­ing older, some­thing that Matthew Cloutier will never know.

Most young driv­ers suf­fer from a well-known ill­ness, called youth. Af­ter years, it goes away by it­self, just to say that blam­ing age in these tragedies is re­fus­ing to ad­mit that we were once young our­selves. Bet­ter built cars, a lot less driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence than years ago, seat belts and other se­cu­rity mea­sures mean that we have a lot less deathly ac­ci­dents than be­fore; statis­tics don’t lie on this sub­ject.

Yet, the cliché is so valid when it hits a com­mu­nity: one death is one too many.

Our lo­cal school board was able to get our young stu­dents com­puter savvy. It could and should take the lead in mak­ing bet­ter driv­ers at school. As with the com­puter pro­gram, it would be an ex­cel­lent ini­tia­tive. We urge the com­mis­sion­ers to study the sub­ject and find the ways and means of putting it in place.

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