September 22, 2011

Drive to Kill!

They call it an accident. A  slamming of the breaks and a wrenching of the steering wheel - seconds? milliseconds?? after impact. Whether that impact is with a gravel truck, lamp post, mini-van, or teenager on his bike travelling at night through an unmarked crosswalk, it's often too, too late.  2,011 vehicular collisions resulted in a daughter, father, sister, uncle, aunt, mom, brother being killed 2,209 times in Canada in 2009.   Why? Even if the numbers of these tragic deaths are down from generations passed, this unneccesary taking of life will never be the same for the families that are left behind. Sometimes, destroying that family beyond any hope of repair.

Sometimes when I am driving I envision that pedestrian walkway I just coasted through. Or that 3-way stop in front of the school. Did I really do everything I could have to ensure the absolute safety of anyone that might have been there?  I like to think I did. I like to think I am a pretty good driver. But then again: So. Does. Everybody.

MADD is probably the #1 advocate towards the creation of positive change of driver attitudes. Despite sad year-to-year reports of not much ever improving for alchol related traffic deaths. Maybe for real change to ever happen though, we need a PADD - Politicians Against Drunk Driving. This is only a pipe dream though, because it is usually the politicians that can't stop drinking! In all seriousness, though, the senseless murders on Canadian roadways have to stop. I think it would be great if the city would leave the fatality signs up wherever someone has succumb to a traffic-inflicted tragedy. And perhaps when a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th or 10th loss of life occurs there, they put up a round bright orange 2 foot sign with the cumulative number of deaths at the location that it happened. This would probably result in the public's realization that current mitigation techniques at ending road deaths is inadequate.    In the meantime, families continue to suffer because someone just doesn't get it. Christopher Dew's sentencing for the murder of a grandmother of 6 is slated for today.  The conviction of this murderer might result in a 24 month or else a 30 month prison sentence, depending on whether the Courts feel that the extra 6 whole months will do him any good or not. Keep in mind that this clean-cut white boy has served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia and is looking forward to becoming a humanitarian aid worker in some poor, poor, developing country. Currently, my aunt's native-born foster child is serving a 2 year sentence for trafficking marijuana, first offence.   What gives.

Even when it isn't alcohol-induced idiocy behind the wheel, there still remains the constant potential for certain traffic death. This is often due to belligerent, ignorant asshole drivers that have no respect for anything but themselves.

Impatience is wearing thinner than ever on Alberta roadways. Merging onto a freeway can be stupidly hazordous as speed-demons cut through solid white lines, disregarding any respect for their fellow road companion or the laws of the city that are put in place to make us all feel at least a little more safe.  Stale yellows? Well, you go right ahead, but I'm not chancing it! The distracted driver bylaw? I fortunately do not have $60 or $80 for an iPhone bill every month, so fucking around on facebook while driving is out of the question. Texting is sooooo 2004. Eating while driving? Kinda gross. Changine CDs is probably my biggest vice, but at leat I am not applying mascara. Which brings me to women drivers. Without getting myself into toooo much trouble, let's just say: Yowza.  Soccer Mom's are the worst. The stress of the job of being a working Mom nowadays makes them the most insane drivers on the road. Those SUVs are indestructible though, so even with the whole fandamly in the back, she can still afford to exceed posted speeding limits by 30%. Buckle up, kids.

Extremely poor driver education and an incredible degree of ease in attaining a license do not make matters any better. Newcomers to Canadian roadways, old people, and indeed 16 year old children would all benefit from an annual re-education of 2-axle vehicle operation every year, complete with a thorough practical government administered examination for 3 years after first earning their Class 5. And old people have to get off the roads at age 75, please. The exam must be rigorous enough that the people incapable of learning even the most fundamental and necessary safety aspects of driving will NOT be driving! After all, we all know that there will be more than enough of these people that pass the testthen totally disregard everything that they were told anyways. Let's at least make it hard for them to earn that privilege of fucking around on our roadways.

If there ever is a time where a person's unacceptable driving affects you directly, I encourage you to speak up and fight for what you know to be right! Enough with the apathy. And flipping the person off doesn't do much more good either. Leaving a note on the driver's windshield is at least something, but it's better if you can muster the balls to say what needs saying to their face. Politely? Politely. As possible.  True, we can all try and exemplify a more civilized, empathetic behaviour of others' undignified driving habits or techniques. But sometimes ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! (I think it's time to pull out the 9-iron from the back seat now).

Moving On.

As globalization continues, fuel prices will increase. Eventually they will be so unconceivably high that only the privileged elite will be able to afford to drive. But please be rest-assured: the combustion of fossil fules will continue well into the 2050s. 

Urbanization will keep our streets crowded and more public transit infrastructure will go ahead REGARDLESS of how poorly it is implemented. Even the best of public transit infrastructure will not deter the privileged elite that can afford to drive their own person vehicles from driving.

And with every additional car on the road, we continue to kill our planet with every last tonne of CO2 that is emitted into the atmosphere. even if we start driving more fuel efficient vehicles, the likelihood of our old cars not being driven by somebody within the next 10 or 20 years is pretty low. In addition, "more fuel efficient cars" does not mean "no fuel" cars, and will resultedly continue to wreck havoc on the environment! This website indicates that about 50 MILLION cars are produced every year worldwide, with 600,000,000 currently coasting around city streets.  Our oil dependent lifestyle will only intensify with our desperation for newer, better, and even more "environmentally friendly" / technologically advanced cars. The production  alone of  millions of "zero" emission cars will certainly contribute to global warming in the production line! Anthropogenic climate change. This is unsustainable.

In the year 2050, disparity and inequality will run rampant, leaving our poor civilized society in shambles. Right now, I am reading Collapse by Jared Diamond who demonstrates how crucial it is for us to aknowledge the warning signs before it's too late. It's not a case of "probable" or "likely" or "mitigation" or "work-on-technology-to-save-us" It's a matter of the necessity of change. Now. Everywhere. Fast

The City of Edmonton is being laughed at for the $100M in creating & expanding cycling lanes over the next 10 years.  Maybe if we're lucky, some of those 50,000,000 cars produced annually will not make it to Edmonton, and there will be more room for those of us who enjoy riding a bike on those new paths, with having less fear of being mowed down by some F-250 Hemi Engine Pick Up Truck or Distracted Driver or Soccer Mom. At least for the 5 or 6 months that the weather allows for cycling up here on latitude 53.

Today is World Car-Free Day! And it is also the day that my cousin was killed in a traffic accident 15 years ago. She was 18. I miss you, Shantell.


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