Crunch - Victoria and the Ring Road

FTLComm - Regina - Tuesday, June 30, 1998
by Timothy W. Shire, pictures - Matthew Shire

Road crashes and fender benders seem to be the grist for a huge amount of what passes for news. Clearly these mishaps are spectacular and because of their alarming frequency it is a situation that concerns everyone. The leading causes of death in North American are in order: 1. Heart Disease, 2. Cancer, 3. Motor vehicle accident and 4. Medically prescribed drugs.

We all spend a lot of time in motor vehicles, each moment we increase the exposure to possible injury or much worse. The philosophical and random excuses everyone gives for accepting this situation is reason for some considerable thought. The question we all have to consider is, "Is the high number of motor vehicle accidents, a matter of everyday life and should we except it as part of our existence?"

The facts seem to be that indeed as our society and much of the developed world, as it is presently organised, can expect to see considerable numbers of fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle collisions. Motorcycles rate as the most dangerous form of transportation while trains are the safest but only marginally ahead of air travel. The private car is far more dangerous then any other form of travel, other then the motorcycle, yet when we consider the enormous amount of movement, it is remarkable how few accidents actually occur. The most promising aspect of this situation is that the vehicles of today are better then ever in their ability to protect the passengers and also avoid collision. Highway design is steadily improving although an outrageous amount of heavily traveled routes are not double laned. Saskatchewan people know about the danger spots on their highways but the folks passing through sometimes get only one shot at it. On Sunday night we witnessed an Ontario van boldly attempt to pass on the deadly Wolsely turn, that driver and his family are probably safely in Alberta now but the stick of traffic going each way on that mile long curve all feel a good bit older after watching the Ontario van cheat death and challenge on coming traffic, on one of the most deadly locations in the province.

The picture above shows a relatively minor crunch Monday afternoon on the East side of Regina. A little soreness, some seriously destroyed vehicles, but crumple zone on the white car and mass of the older dark one, protected the occupants.

There is some certainty that there will always be collisions, (Avoid the word accident, it means something that happened by chance or caused by random unexpected behaviours. A vehicle in collision with another due to road design, driving skill, various other factors like alcohol, drugs and sleep deprivation, or the use of a cell phone, all suggest that the event is less then accidental, but rather a natural consequence of the activity and these related factors.) but with the momentum on our side, with fewer accidents and safety features like seat belts and air bags, perhaps the time has arrived to further increase the odds that will reduce even further the number of occurrences

Computerised road travel is now possible and a whole range of vehicle countermeasures are being developed as spin-offs from military and space research. Complacency and acceptance of inevitable collisions is not likely to produce the pressure and demand that should be extorted by the consumer for more and more efforts to see vehicular injury and death move substantially down the present hit list.