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Correcting bad driving habits

It is a horrible tragedy that hit the Westside a little over a year ago, on June 8, 2010.  It made news earlier this month through an article by Cheryl Wierda of the Penticton Western News who reported on charges laid arising from the crash.

The transport truck driver, driving westbound on the highway, was charged with failing to stop for a yellow light at Westlake Road.  The oncoming left turning pick-up truck driver who turned into the path of the transport truck was charged with failing to yield.

The completely innocent victim of the crash, a father of three, was doing all the right things, patiently waiting to merge onto the highway from Westlake Road.  He was killed by the aftermath of the transport truck/pick-up truck crash.

I had initially written about the tragedy in a column published on June 13, 2010.  In that column, I challenged our desensitization to car crashes, regularly referred to as “accidents”.

Rather than an unlucky set of circumstances that cannot be avoided, as the word “accident” suggests, I insisted that we make choices about how we drive every time we get behind the wheel.

I attempted to scrape through the deep crust of desensitization, leaving a raw wound that never heals, the memory of the deceased reminding us that we can make a difference with the driving choices we make.

I learned reading an article from a staff writer with the 100 Mile House Free Press that the Province of British Columbia, RCMP and ICBC launched a month long campaign to raise the importance of smart driving behavior on May 6, 2011.

Both driving behaviors contributing to the tragedy on June 8, 2010, are listed in that article: (1) When making a left turn, be extra cautious and yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic; and (2) As a reminder:  yellow lights mean you should stop if you can do so safely.

I am disappointed that I learned of the campaign only through an internet search I did when researching for this column.  Either I have my head in the sand, or the campaign is a failure in getting the word out.

The word needs to get out.  The needless death of a father of three on June 8, 2010, is the tip of a very large iceberg.  Thousands of British Columbians are injured needlessly every year because of bad driving behaviors, and many of those injuries leave victims with permanent symptoms.

Car crashes cost us dearly.  Lives are lost.  Injuries are sustained.  The medical system is taxed.  Our insurance premiums need to be high to cover the claims of innocent victims.  They are not accidents.  They are avoidable.

Driver attitudes can change with public awareness campaigns just like attitudes about seatbelt and helmet use have been so successfully changed.

Let’s get on it.  One crash is too many.

Published May 29, 2011 in the Kelowna Capital News

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