Don’t be a statis­tic

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

O n the Veter­ans Me­mo­rial High­way, just past the North River exit head­ing to­wards Car­bon­ear, there is an ob­vi­ous dou­ble fish­hook of black rub­ber on the pave­ment, lines that end abruptly, along with scat­tered paint marks.

If you know why the skid marks are there, they’d prob­a­bly give you pause ev­ery time you passed them. The high­way opens up there, and the solid line goes to the dashes that mean, if it’s clear, you can pass. It’s just past a rock face on the right, spruce and ju­niper just com­ing into the bright green of early sum­mer on both sides.

It’s also the scene of a fa­tal ac­ci­dent, the ex­act spot where the lives of two driv­ers, a 67-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman, were claimed. An ac­ci­dent that hap­pened at 1 p.m. on a week­day.

Un­less you’re a friend or fam­ily mem­ber of one of the three vic­tims in­volved - a 33-year-old man was taken to hospi­tal in crit­i­cal con­di­tion as well - the ac­ci­dent has prob­a­bly faded into your mem­ory, even though it was just over a month ago. It’s re­cent enough that the RCMP hasn’t es­tab­lished a cause.

An­other man died in a sep­a­rate high­way ac­ci­dent on the Trans-Canada High­way on the same day. Since then, a cy­clist has died in a crash on the TCH near the Holy­rood Ac­cess.

So far, the num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties on the prov­ince’s roads has been quite stag­ger­ing: in 2015, in ar­eas un­der the RCMP’s ju­ris­dic­tion, there were 34 fa­tal­i­ties in 27 sep­a­rate ac­ci­dents. So far in 2016 (as of June 20), there have been 16 deaths in 13 crashes, a num­ber that in­cludes a hor­rific five-fa­tal­ity crash on the Trans-Canada High­way near Chapel Arm on March 22. If road deaths con­tinue with the same fre­quency, we could eas­ily reach 2015’s num­ber again.

The thing is, cars are get­ting safer, with the con­stant ad­di­tion of safety fea­tures. In fact, the U.S. Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Ad­min­is­tra­tion put out a re­search pa­per in 2013 that out­lined the in­crease in sur­viv­abil­ity in newer ve­hi­cles. In fa­tal crashes, a driver of a car that was be­tween four and seven years old was 10 per cent more likely to be killed than a driver of a car that was three years old or less. The num­bers climbed the older the ve­hi­cle was.

The study cites a se­ries of added mea­sures: “These safety im­prove­ments in­clude the num­ber and qual­ity of frontal and side air bags; seat­belt qual­ity (in­clud­ing seat­belt load lim­iters and pre­ten­sion­ers); elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol; an­tilock brak­ing sys­tems; roof crush strength; en­ergy-ab­sorb­ing steer­ing as­sem­blies; trac­tion con­trol; lane de­par­ture warn­ings; and for­ward col­li­sion warn­ings.”

Yet, peo­ple con­tinue to die and suf­fer se­ri­ous in­juries on our roads, of­ten as a re­sult of ex­ces­sive speed and driver dis­trac­tion.

What part of the car isn’t get­ting bet­ter and safer?

In many cases, we only have to look in the mir­ror. — This ed­i­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Tele­gram

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