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The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - EDITORIAL -

t was one of those “Death on the Ice” days: sunny, but with an icy wall of wind. It’s rem­i­nis­cent of what the poor seal­ers from the SS New­found­land faced the day af­ter sur­viv­ing a bar­rage of snow and freez­ing rain.

Of the 132 men stranded on the Front that March 31st in 1914, only 54 were still alive when res­cue fi­nally came two days late.

Tragedies dot our his­tory like a string of dark pearls. But no mat­ter how of­ten they oc­cur, they still make us pause to con­sider how we can do bet­ter.

How we can stop this gut-wrench­ing pain from af­fect­ing more fam­i­lies now and in the fu­ture.

March 23 also brought news of a much more mod­ern type of tragedy: five lives lost on the Trans-Canada High­way in an ac­ci­dent early Tues­day morn­ing.

The crash hap­pened near the Long Har­bour turnoff, a busy stretch of road when work­ers head to or from jobs in Long Har­bour, Come By Chance and Bull Arm.

A pas­sen­ger van and a pickup truck col­lided in the dawn hours.

The van caught fire, and police were help­less to do any­thing for sev­eral hours.

The pickup driver was se­ri­ously in­jured, but is ex­pected to sur­vive.

It was clearly a grue­some scene. As of that af­ter­noon, au­thor­i­ties had still not re­leased any names.

It wasn’t clear whether all vic­tims had even been iden­ti­fied by that point.

Driv­ers, along with res­i­dents in the area, say this stretch of road can be treach­er­ous. There’s at least one steep turn that has seen more than its fair share of col­li­sions.

So now, the soul-search­ing be­gins. Should this be the wa­ter­shed event to re­ally spur more se­ri­ous ac­tion?

Bet­ter en­force­ment, higher fines, rerout­ing roads?

Is there a death toll that will fi­nally spur more dras­tic ac­tion?

Or should we pay our re­spects and carry on un­til the next mo­ment of car­nage?

Last week, police clocked a flee­ing ve­hi­cle at speeds of up to 175 km/h.

Police say speed kills. Oth­ers dis­pute that, point­ing to sta­tis­tics that don’t back it up; stu­pid­ity and inat­ten­tive­ness are the real cul­prits.

None of this re­ally gets to the heart of the mat­ter.

Over the past cen­tury, mo­tor ve­hi­cles have be­come in­creas­ingly fast, ef­fi­cient and com­fort­able.

Along with that has come a de­gree of com­pla­cency. It’s in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for some to re­mem­ber they are hurtling along nar­row strips of pave­ment in large chunks of metal.

A small dif­fer­ence in speed one way or the other is es­sen­tially moot if those chunks make con­tact.

You have to won­der whether too many driv­ers are too ab­sorbed in their own bub­bles to care — not just the skeets and the drunks, but all of us.

Today, we ex­tend con­do­lences to those af­fected by this hor­ri­ble crash.

To­mor­row, let’s do some­thing about it.

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