Slow down, put your phones in the trunk and pay at­ten­tion

The News (New Glasgow) - - OPINION - Steve Bartlett Steve Bartlett is an ed­i­tor with SaltWire Net­work. Reach him via email at steve.bartlett@thetele­

I pass the two-storey house ev­ery day.

My heart sinks and my stom­ach pangs each time, no mat­ter how of­ten I drive by.

A few months ago, the peo­ple who live in the home were struck by in­com­pre­hen­si­ble tragedy — a high­way ac­ci­dent that claimed mul­ti­ple lives.

I don’t know this fam­ily or any­thing about them. Not their names, how their voices sound, what they like, or where they are from.

I know of them only as a passer-by, as some­one who drives past, or oc­ca­sion­ally walks, as they cut the lawn or lug gro­ceries from the car. They might be strangers, but I’ve been deeply sad­dened by their loss.

They are con­stantly in my thoughts. I can’t be­gin to grasp or un­der­stand their pain. I can only imag­ine. Daily rou­tines and fu­ture dreams shat­tered.

The tough, seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble, tasks of pick­ing up the pieces and mov­ing on.

Fac­ing birthdays, hol­i­days and sig­nif­i­cant dates with­out some­one they loved dearly and de­pended on.

I won­der how they are cop­ing with it all, if they’re find­ing com­fort, if there’s any­thing I could pos­si­bly do to help. Noth­ing comes to mind.

I don’t know what caused the ac­ci­dent.

But I do know we re­port too many such tragedies in the pages of our news­pa­pers, that too many fam­i­lies are miss­ing loved ones be­cause of high­way tragedies, that far too many of us still haven’t ad­justed our driv­ing habits to limit the num­ber of peo­ple who lose their lives on the road.

Many of us get be­hind the wheel each morn­ing and race at high speeds to wher­ever we’re go­ing. Some of us even re­spond to texts or emails along the way.

We re­peat that reck­less be­hav­iour at lunchtime, on the way home, on week­ends. We do it with our kids in the car, and with other peo­ple’s chil­dren aboard. We do it with our moth­ers and fa­thers in the pas­sen­ger seat.

And we do it with our ro­man­tic part­ners — the ones we searched years to find — next to us.

But the risks just don’t make sense and can never add up, es­pe­cially when the re­ward is as in­signif­i­cant as get­ting to work, or a drive-thru lineup, or some­where like the mall, a few min­utes ear­lier.

Please slow down. Please turn your phones off and put them in the trunk. Please drive with care and cau­tion.

Ac­ci­dents will still hap­pen no mat­ter what, but hope­fully we’ll be driv­ing by fewer houses hit by tragedy.

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