Col­li­sions don’t hap­pen by ac­ci­dent

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Please do not try and read this while op­er­at­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle. Stranger things have been at­tempted.

In the course of a seven-day pe­riod ( Aug. 10-16) Trin­ity Con­cep­tion District RCMP re­sponded to no less than 16 mo­tor ve­hi­cle col­li­sions.

While most of them were fender ben­ders, at least two high­way col­li­sions re­sulted in se­ri­ous but non­life-threat­en­ing in­juries.

In one case, where a car went out of con­trol and left Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way, a lo­cal fire chief told The Com­pass, the tires on the ve­hi­cle were “as bare as a baby’s bum.”

In­deed, bald tires and other de­fec­tive equip­ment on ve­hi­cles could be blamed for some ac­ci­dents.

Then there is in­clement weather, such as rain, driz­zle and fog, and road con­di­tions, in­clud­ing ice, snow and those in­fa­mous ruts in pave­ment. When filled with wa­ter, they can cause ve­hi­cles to hy­droplane out of con­trol.

Now it’s easy to point the fin­ger of blame at these and other fac­tors as the cause of mo­tor ve­hi­cle col­li­sions. But, in the end, they are all lame ex­cuses for the real cause of col­li­sions that are pre­ventable and avoid­able.

The RCMP and other sea­soned law en­force­ment agen­cies will tell you, “ weather and road con­di­tions do not cause col­li­sions. It is the driver’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to ad­just their driv­ing habits to those con­di­tions.”

That’s among some of the sound ad­vice Const. John Clarke of­fers mo­torists in his po­lice re­port in the B sec­tion of this week’s is­sue.

Warn­ing drivers to “al­ways re­duce speed in ad­verse weather, and al­ways be aware of other ve­hi­cles and pedes­tri­ans be­fore mov­ing your ve­hi­cle,” the Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Of­fi­cer sug­gests: “ These two sim­ple things will help you avoid be­ing in­volved in a col­li­sion.”

Sounds like com­mon sense! enough!

But how many of us heed and prac­tice the art of logic while driv­ing our high­ways?

As far as drivers heed­ing such sound ad­vice, the chance of them ac­tu­ally putting it into prac­tice would be laugh­able if it weren’t so se­ri­ous, and the con­se­quences of ig­nor­ing it so fatal.

When the fog is so thick you can’t see 50 feet beyond the bumper, some drivers barrel on through, as if the sun was shin­ing to melt the as­phalt and they could see for miles - to­tally obliv­i­ous to other traf­fic (trans­port trucks) and those ubiq­ui­tous moose, who are equally obliv­i­ous to where they are.

And any­one who drives the TCH or any other high­way can tell you that, even if you are clip­ping along at 110 or 120 clicks, other drivers will pass you as though you were parked.

Drivers who go 130 kph only make it to their des­ti­na­tions a mere few min­utes ahead of those who keep the speed limit. Yet they rou­tinely risk their own lives, and the lives of their pas­sen­gers and other peo­ple on the high­way for the sake of those measly few min­utes.

When it comes to speed, it seems all the au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neers in the world couldn’t de­sign a mo­tor ve­hi­cle that could go fast enough for some drivers.

And no high­way en­gi­neer could ever de­sign a high­way on which such ve­hi­cles could be op­er­ated safely at such speeds.

If drivers like speed that much, per­haps it’s not a high­way they need at all. Per­haps it’s a run­way! Maybe it’s not a driver’s li­cence they need. Maybe it’s a pi­lot’s li­cence. And a ve­hi­cle with wings, if they are in that much of a hurry to get wher­ever it is they are headed.

While speed, im­paired drivers, de­fec­tive equip­ment and road and weather con­di­tions may all con­trib­ute to col­li­sions, the RCMP re­minds us this week that, “ most mo­tor ve­hi­cle col­li­sions are avoid­able and are caused by inat­ten­tive driv­ing.”

Speed and not pay­ing full at­ten­tion while driv­ing make for a deadly com­bi­na­tion.

Per­haps they are en­demic of our so­ci­ety in the new mil­len­nium - a so­ci­ety that wants to do ev­ery­thing. The big dif­fer­ence is we want to do it all at the same time. We don’t have time to give un­di­vided at­ten­tion to driv­ing, when there are so many other things we could be do­ing while driv­ing.

Un­like our moth­ers and fa­thers, we are not con­tent to do one thing at a time any­more. No, be­cause there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do what we want to do, we have to mul­ti­task.

We want to drink, eat, smoke, yack on our cell phones, check our e-mail, text, tweet, watch TV, play video games, read, check our lotto tick­ets, play with our pets, shave, put on lip­stick and God knows what else - all while driv­ing a ton of metal, plas­tic and glass 100 clicks and more along a high­way. It’s a won­der we have even one hand free for the steer­ing wheel!

Is it re­ally too much to ask of drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road? Or has the act of driv­ing ac­tu­ally be­come a dis­trac­tion to all the other things we want to do si­mul­ta­ne­ously?

It takes hun­dreds of bolts and nuts to hold a mo­tor ve­hi­cle to­gether, but only one to tear it apart.

Sounds log­i­cal - Bill Bow­man The Com­pass

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