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Editorial: Driving home a point

Veterans Memorial Highway has served as the scene of multiple fatal accidents over the years. — Compass file photo
Veterans Memorial Highway has served as the scene of multiple fatal accidents over the years. — Compass file photo

 

You may not know RCMP Const. David Bourden, but you should take his advice seriously.

Very seriously, especially if you own a mobile device.

“Everyone has a phone these days and (has) become more concerned with checking Facebook or texting their buddy than keeping their eyes on the road,” he told The Telegram’s Rosie Mullaley recently. “That’s when crashes occur.”

Take him seriously, especially if you’re an impatient driver who takes risks just to leave slower motorists in your exhaust.

“People think they have to get out and pass every car in sight,” Bourden said. “It’s just to gain those extra couple of minutes, but it’s not safe.”

Take him seriously, especially if you still refuse — decades after it became law —to wear a seatbelt.

“It’s a huge part of the whole equation,” Bourden said.

He has a wealth of wisdom on highway safety, because he’s worn two hats — the peaked cap of the RCMP as a collision analyst, and the hard hat of a civil engineer who once worked for Transportation and Works.

There are few people as qualified to talk about the causes of highway collisions and carnage.

In Friday’s Telegram, Bourden shared his opinion on Veterans Memorial Highway, which has seen a large share of tragedy in its 24-year history, most recently on Sept. 11, when three people died in a head-on collision.

Bourden doesn’t believe the problem is highway design or the absence of passing lanes, as many suggest.

“There really are no big (structural or road design) issues,” he said, adding that the highway is in good condition.

To believe these issues are limited to Veterans Memorial would be foolish and dangerous.

And he wasn’t making that judgment after a trip or two along the 40-kilometre stretch of road between the Trans-Canada and Conception Bay North.

Bourden was stationed at RCMP detachments in Bay Roberts and Harbour Grace for years, and currently patrols the road from time to time out of his Holyrood base.

He knows it like an old song.

“I’ve driven it at every time of the year and I can honestly say there is no area where I can say, ‘Oh this is a bad spot,’” he told Mullaley.

That’s why he’s convinced the crashes and fatalities are the result of driving errors, like being distracted by phones or food, becoming impatient with other drivers, or not buckling up.

To believe these issues are limited to Veterans Memorial would be foolish and dangerous.

There are really simple fixes for these road errors. Put your phone away while you drive. Chill out if you’re slowed by another driver or feel pressured to reach a destination faster. And reach up over your shoulder, grab your seat belt, pull it down and fasten it.

Taking those actions won’t cost you a cent.

Not taking them could cost you your life.

 

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