Yes, road needs fix­ing, but you can’t fix stupid

The Enterprise-Bulletin (Collingwood) - - OPINION - JIM MERRIAM jim­mer­riam@ hot­mail. com

South­bound mo­torists from Man­i­toulin Island who choose to use the ferry ser­vice, dis­em­bark the Chi

cheemaun at Tober­mory on the tip of the Bruce Penin­sula.

The ferry’s name is from the Ojib­way lan­guage. Trans­lated, it means the Big Ca­noe. And big it is.

The ferry can trans­port 143 ve­hi­cles, as well as pas­sen­gers on its twice daily trips across the cold wa­ters of Geor­gian Bay.

By the time the south­bound trav­ellers dis­em­bark and get their cars onto dry land, they have tra­versed some 45 kilo­me­tres of open wa­ter. Ahead of them they face a longer trek by car to get off the penin­sula and on their way to their des­ti­na­tion in the south of the prov­ince.

It’s 75 kilo­me­tres to Wiar­ton, or about 46 miles.

The start of that road trip is where our story be­gins. The route is not ex­actly the 40 miles of bad road en­shrined in a leg­endary in­stru­men­tal of that name by the mas­ter of gui­tar twang, Duane Eddy.

But it’s not 40 miles of an open, four- lane speed­way that many of the ferry trav­ellers are used to trav­el­ling in and around the Big Smoke and other cities of south­ern On­tario.

The two- lane High­way 6 takes the trav­ellers up and down a num­ber of hills and around curves, as it wends its way around the forests and lakes of the Bruce.

How­ever, the quiet am­bi­ence and scenery don’t ap­peal to ev­ery­one. To some folks this stretch of road must seem like just a de­tour in their fran­tic life­style. A de­tour to get away from as fast as pos­si­ble.

Last week a red car trav­el­ling in an er­ratic man­ner, pulling in and out of the long line of ferry trav­ellers head­ing south, col­lided head on with a cam­per. The two oc­cu­pants in the cam­per were killed as well as the driver of the red car. His three pas­sen­gers were in­jured.

Although this is the most re­cent of a num­ber of tragic ac­ci­dents on this stretch of road, it is by no means an iso­lated tragedy.

In ad­di­tion, the sto­ries of close calls are le­gion. I even have one of my own.

A few years back I was forced to head for the ditch with my truck and trailer car­ry­ing a team of mules, when a car popped over a hill, while a woman was pass­ing me.

She replied to my horn blast by giv­ing me the fin­ger, a fin­ger she had to raise high so I could see it over the car seats where her two kids were strapped in for the joy ride. I hope they all made it.

The kind of empty head­ed­ness that re­sults in these tragedies and near misses can be found in other ar­eas of our so­ci­ety.

Peo­ple are still lock­ing dogs and even chil­dren in hot cars, hik­ers are still wan­der­ing off marked trails and sus­tain­ing life- chang­ing in­juries when they fall, hol­i­day­ers still spend their last day of their va­ca­tion drink­ing beer at the cot­tage be­fore head­ing back to the city with a snoot full. Ex­am­ples of this kind of mind­less ap­proach to life are many and var­ied.

Bill Walker, the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MPP whose rid­ing in­cludes the stretch of High­way 6 in ques­tion, has called meet­ings with the OPP, min­istry of trans­porta­tion and others to try to push for life­sav­ing im­prove­ments to the high­way and pre­sum­ably to the way it is pa­trolled.

Per­haps they will come up with some so­lu­tions. But here’s the prob­lem. In all these kinds of sit­u­a­tions, you can’t fix stupid.

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