Sunday, August 11, 2013

DRIVE SAFE, PEOPLE!


            I’ve logged a lot of kilometers across this province of ours during the past three months and there are a few things that stand out to me regarding the experiences that I’ve had driving at this time of the year on Saskatchewan highways and byways.

            Not only is it summer-time but it’s also tourist season and, most importantly of all, it’s ROAD CONSTRUCTION season! Between the lateness of our spring/winter and the constant downpours of rain the road construction industry has been under even more stress to get the amount of work done that has been contracted to them in the limited time that this far too-short season allows.

            Saskatchewan has the largest municipal grid road network in Canada totaling 165,000 kilometers. In combination with the province’s highway network, the province boasts over 190,000 km of rural roads-the most roads per capita of any jurisdiction in the world. That’s an awful lot of road to look after so no wonder it has taken forever to get those last fifteen miles between Kipling and #9 highway finished! The same could be said for sections of Hwy #42, #47, #123, #35, # 155 and the list goes on and on.

            The bad news is that there are so many roads to do upkeep on and the good news is that there are so many roads to do upkeep on, if you know what I mean. I’d like to be able to take the fastest route possible on the best road conditions possible between destinations and that’s a pretty tall order, but we’re getting there. The amount of highway construction being done on the highways, grid roads and municipal streets in this province is another indication of Saskatchewan’s robust economy, (cue politicians to line up to take credit here).

            I can’t seem to locate any accurate statistics so I cannot say with any certainty that the number of inept drivers is higher in Saskatchewan than anywhere else but it sure seemed like it on some of the days, well…most…of the days that I’ve been on the road. In fact, Saskatchewan set a new record for the number of highway fatalities in 2012 and distracted driving surpassed drunk driving as the number one cause of death on Saskatchewan’s roads.

            Last year SGI recorded 173 fatalities up to December 17th, 2012 with 57 of those fatal collisions attributed to distracted driving and 54 to drinking and driving leaving 62 deaths to what? Selfish driving? Dangerous driving? Carelessness? Lack of skills? A little bit of all of the above perhaps? We really need to pay more attention to what we’re doing out there folks!

            Sidebar here: I was recently cruising down Saskatchewan Drive when I was distracted by an electronic billboard whose message was a read-out stating that distracted driving was now the #1 cause of road accidents and I damn near rear-ended the car in front of me while I was reading the sign telling me not to be distracted while driving! Sheesh! Take those stupid things down already before someone really gets hurt. It’s probably too late now anyway.

            So, mister smarty-pants, what gives you the right to preach to us about driving, you’re thinking? Here’s the thing-I got my driver’s license in 1974 and my first car in 1976. In that time I’ve had two speeding tickets, (both bogus calls by the way), but okay, they’re on my record and I have never had a claim in to SGI for any vehicle that I have owned in 37 years. (Touch wood that I haven’t jinxed myself now!). Nothing! Not a fender bender, not so much as a scratch in a  parking lot. Have I done stupid things while I’ve been behind the wheel? Yes I have. More than I’d like to admit to and I am thankful for the road angel that’s been looking after me all these years but most of my luck has been because I was trained as a defensive driver and I still apply those techniques while I’m driving and I will take some of the credit for going nearly 40 years accident free.

            On August 29th it will have been one year since the senseless death of Ashley Dawn Richards, the 18-year-old pregnant flag attendant who was killed by a speeding passing motorist while she was working in a road construction zone near Midale. In my recent time on the road I must have been passed a dozen times by drivers too selfish for their own time to obey the rules of the road in these construction zones. One small misstep and dozens of lives will be affected by one driver’s bad decision, so, please, people, let’s be careful, be aware of your surroundings and pay attention out there.

            “It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.” ~ Author Unknown.

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