Slowing down raises everyone’s chance of survival

Do Trail motorists have a need for speed? Ray Masleck seems to think so.

Toronto’s medical health officer is proposing the speed limit on the city’s arterial roads be cut from 60 km/h to 40 or 50. I have never found Toronto drivers to be particularly reckless. Their biggest problem is there are just too many of them.

The doc’s suggestion didn’t get much of a hearing. Hogtown’s colourful Mayor Doug Ford replied “nuts, nuts, nuts, nuts” while the head of the public works committee urged the health officer to “stick to his knitting,” according to the Globe and Mail.

In Trail, speed limits have been raised from 40 km/h to 50 over the years on arterial roads such as Columbia Avenue east of the Old Bridge, Highway Drive in Glenmerry, Hillside Drive from Gyro Park to Sunningdale, and Hwy 22 from downtown to Tadanac.

The route past the Teck gates was the scene of some of the worst driving that I can recall witnessing by a local motorist not driving a motorcycle. Ironically, the vehicle in question was a small SUV belonging to Interior Health, driven, presumably, by a misnamed public servant.

It was a beautiful afternoon last fall and I was doodling along in the slow lane.

A couple of vehicles on my left were making the kind of endless slow passes that can be annoying if you are on the freeway trying to make time on a long trip.

The IH vehicle appeared in my rearview mirror and quickly piled up behind the slow passers. When the second vehicle had crept past, the IH head case cut in front of me and sped by the pokey passers on their right.

The IHHC then flew through the rest of the 70km/h zone by Teck, using the shoulder to pass another vehicle as the highway narrowed to two lanes.

The health-threatening health-care provider then proceeded to aggressively tailgate the next car overtaken until the woman driving turned off onto the shoulder, then sped up to tailgate the next vehicle in line, before disappearing towards Castlegar when an opportunity to pass came along.

I noted the vehicle number and lodged a complaint with this nitwit’s employer, but other than an email acknowledging my submission never heard anything further.

Perhaps that is not surprising given IH, like other providers, is far too busy trying to reduce the number of people it kills in its hospitals and sundry facilities to worry about theoretical mayhem relating to a lead-footed driver.

The latter is a job for the rest of us.

Driving up the Gulch on my way home to Warfield or crossing the highway during a stroll around the village, I wonder where it is so many drivers are going in such a hurry and why they don’t care about anyone else.

It may not look like much, but the Gulch is a neighbourhood.

People live there, work and shop in the businesses along Rossland Avenue, and jaywalk between their vehicles and the bars and other remaining attractions.

There is also a day care in the neighbourhood, a major elementary school bus stop, busy recycling depot, community square, three frequently-ignored crosswalks, the periodically-busy Colombo Lodge, and the quaint old Catholic Church which, as a result of Trail’s demographics, does a brisk weekday trade in funerals.

Despite the potential hazards that these activities and institutions create, I regularly see people speeding up the street at 70-80 km/h.

Where is the respect for the rest of us as we attempt to live long and prosper?

What has become of common sense?

Like the homicides, the number of pedestrian deaths in Canada is declining. But while the numbers are not that different, homicides are seen as a problem by the Harper government, most provincial governments, including the B.C. Liberals, and many citizens.

Pedestrian fatalities and the many more people killed and maimed in vehicle crashes are apparently just collateral damage.

Some years ago an RCMP member told me that a fellow officer renowned for his ticket writing was a traffic cop rather than a real crime fighter.

But think of all the misery that is avoided by encouraging people to slow down, buckle up, and stop rather than just slowing down at stop signs and signals. (The number of local drivers who don’t stop before turning right on red signals alarms and infuriates me.)

This is not Toronto or Vancouver, so traffic deaths are not all that common in Greater Trail. But who needs any?

And consider how much more peaceful it would be if everyone stuck to the speed limit on the streets of our communities.

Raymond Masleck is a retired Trail Times reporter.

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