Chaos on roads
| Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 06:00 am
A grizzly bear killed on Highway 68, a wolverine killed on Highway 93Ö maybe we shouldnít be surprised that long weekend traffic is responsible for the death of another pair of our iconic symbols of the wild.
Then again, judging by the speeders, tailgaters and aggressive drivers that pass through our valley, especially on popular long weekends, we suppose we should be thankful that no human lives were lost on our local roads.
Just like leadfoot drivers, there seems to be no putting the brakes on wildlife being killed on our roads. Short of massive wildlife fence building projects everywhere, and even fences arenít foolproof as evidenced by when a tree falls on one, fences would not be the end-all answer.
The only answer, and itís not likely to happen any time soon, is a change in the mindset of those behind the wheel.
The problem, clearly, is the sense of entitlement drivers have. Overall, people just arenít treating the art of driving with the respect it deserves.
If you drive at all, youíve witnessed bad driving behaviour. Banning cellphone use with a distracted driving law has done little to curb the activity. Everywhere you go, gazing into a vehicle window often reveals a driver on a cellphone.
Speeding, judging by the amount of tickets handed out by police on any given weekend or during a speed enforcement push, shows no sign of easing.
The problem is, drivers donít view their vehicle as a several thousand kilogram, powerful weapon which can kill when in the wrong hands.
In the case of speeders, anecdotal evidence points to the fact that speeders just speed. Itís what they do. We doubt itís even a conscious thing; speeders caught speeding are always speeding.
Itís all about entitlement, where an individual simply, subconsciously possibly, feels their immediate needs are more important than any regulations.
Now and then, an Outlook staffer accompanies RCMP members on a speed enforcement campaign. Typically, when pulled over by police, drivers donít have an excuse, they were just speeding. You can tell they always speed.
Letís face it, in this day and age, virtually no vehicle is sold without cruise control. Avoiding speeding should be as simple as setting your cruise to the appropriate setting.
Here in the Bow Valley, weíve all seen the speeders who fly along the highway, only to slow where a crash has taken place due to ice, unsafe conditions, driver error, etc. They slow as they pass by, then hit the gas once more, which is particularly comical in winter Ė as though there couldnít be more than one snowy/icy section of road. As though the only icy section of road had already claimed its victim for the day.
Thatís why itís no surprise that on this past Victoria Day weekend, police around the province wrote 5,711 tickets for all manner of roadway mayhem. That number is up from 3,263 for the 2011 holiday weekend. Itís a disappointing trend.
Even in Northern Alberta, where citizens were supposedly Ďin shockí a short time ago after a fiery crash killed three of seven people involved on the now-famous Highway 63 (Fort McMurray speedway), it seems no lasting impression was made.
Despite people professing horror at a crash which claimed the lives of children and a pregnant woman, and strident calls for twinning of the road as a safety measure, shortly after, during a police speed enforcement campaign, hundreds of speeding tickets were written on a single weekend.
Without changes in driver attitude, itís highly unlikely twinning of Highway 63 will do little more than possibly reduce head-on collisions. More likely, doubling the lanes of traffic will double the opportunities for speeding and associated dangers.
The attitude of entitlement must change. Drivers need to view driving as a luxury, not a right.