Our broken hearts ache for something positive to rise up from the worst tragedies.
It is January 28, 2015, on a straight stretch of Highway 33, east of Kelowna. It is broad daylight and road conditions are ideal. A Mitsubishi Lancer eases over the centre line. The tire tracks leading off the roadway show no sign of braking or evasive steering.
The crash down a 150 metre cliff takes the life of the sole occupant, Alexandra, who is just 21 years old.
Alexandra’s father is among the emergency services personnel at the scene. He tried to make sense of the scene and believes that his daughter, who had been overtired, may have fallen asleep.
Our hearts ache for this tragic loss of a young life and for those close to Alexandra who feel that loss so poignantly.
How could it be that something positive might come from this senseless tragedy?
Each of us learning of it holds just a little tighter to our children. As our memory of the loss fades, though, so does our grip.
We ache for a more lasting legacy.
Might Alexandra’s senseless loss prevent another? Might her loss be leveraged to prevent a multitude of others?
“Alexandra’s Story” could be told in high school classrooms to help our young people learn and fully appreciate that motor vehicles are dangerous, heavy machinery commanding the utmost of care and respect.
In my experience, though, young people may be the least in need of that lesson. Young people are products of our society’s driving culture. Arguably, young people are the least in need of that lesson.
We are all a product of our driving culture: a culture of complacency. Those of us motivated to change that driving culture face a horrendously uphill battle, countered every step of the way by advertising campaigns espousing the safety of motor vehicles and continual media reports suggesting that crashes don’t come with consequences.
Precious little is being done to change our driving culture.
“Alexandra’s story” could be the impetus for a road safety initiative require those obtaining, as well as renewing, our licenses to sit through a ½ hour safety video. The photograph of those tire tracks could be the opening image and her story could be the introduction.
Mass advertising is expensive, particularly when it is important to reach all demographics. By requiring a viewing of the video when obtaining and renewing our driver’s licenses, we are guaranteed that everyone will benefit. It would require as little capital expenditure as the video production and a designated viewing room at each driver’s license issuing location.
A well done video would have each of us leaving not only with a renewed license but also a renewed respect for the important task of driving.
Let us pay our respects to Alexandra’s memory by making whatever contribution each of us can make to help prevent future road traffic tragedies. Those in positions of influence can do more than others.
Published February 6, 2015 in the Kelowna Capital News