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Letter: It’s time for change

There is ongoing talk and little action taken with regard to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where it starts and who it affects.

Well, as we know, it affects people in various ways — bullying in school, emergency responding, policing etc.

For now I want to set my thoughts on road safety, or the lack thereof, and how it affects those directly involved in responding.

When an accident happens, the first responders often have to deal with the death or serious injuries of victims. The next step would be to help remove victims from the vehicle, then notify next of kin. After that, the investigation of the root cause takes them back through the whole process again and again.

Many accidents are the result of impairment, distracted driving (cellphones, eating, makeup application, the vast amount of information on the dashboard of new vehicles), speeding, vehicles not prepared for changing road conditions, and drivers unfamiliar with the vehicle controls. The RNC and RCMP should release to the public information about what caused the accident — for example, the driver was impaired, the driver was travelling too fast for road conditions, the driver’s car was not equipped to meet road conditions, the driver crossed the lanes, the driver failed to stop or passed on a solid line, the pedestrian stepped in front of the vehicle, the vehicle had no lighting, etc. Most vehicles today hold in memory what actions the driver was performing, if any, before the crash.

What can be done? Authorities need to increase fines and impound the vehicles of drivers who have little or no regard for the rules of the road.
In addition, car manufacturers should be made to standardize the placement of light switches, signal switches, radio controls and other vital switches within the driver’s vision, in every vehicle.

It would also be wise to have vehicle advertising geared to the everyday safe drive. What kind of a message is sent to the public when advertising is geared to a 250 kilometre-an-hour-plus speedometer, burning rubber in your new sports car, racing in green meadows, sitting back in your 400-plus horse power vehicle, indicating that you are capable of doing well over the speed limit if you buy this brand. These ads are made using skilled professional drivers and must be tamed down to suite the average driver.

Strong stuff, yes, but absolutely necessary steps to reduce the carnage on our roadways and ease the burden on our first responders.
It’s simple: the faster you go, the harder you hit; the harder you hit, the more you will suffer or die. First responders have a difficult time because some abuse the privilege to drive. Let us put a stop to this aspect of their jobs.

Gary Ball
St. John’s

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