Officers in Manitoba RCMP traffic services are shaking their heads. Last weekend was disastrous, for reasons that, according to news reports, neither they nor anyone else can comprehend: six Manitobans lost their lives on the roads. At least two of the road deaths involved alcohol.
After years of study of crashes, police departments and road safety organizations have moved beyond calling such incidents “accidents.” It’s clear that they are preventable. In some cases, excessive speed was a cause. Speeding is always preventable, as is drunk driving.
One of the collisions involved a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction on a divided highway. Wrong-way collisions usually involve alcohol.
One can understand why the police are mystified. Canadians have been bombarded with road safety messages for many generations. It’s safe to say that there is no one in Manitoba who does not know that speeding and drunk driving are dangerous. Yet drivers continue to die on the roads because they ignore these most basic safety cautions.
Manitoba’s rate of road deaths is about average for Canada as a whole. However, for whatever reason, the province’s rate of injury due to road collisions is about twice the national average.
One weekend does not a trend make. With any luck next weekend will be a dry one for RCMP traffic services. It’s all a matter of who decides to plan ahead and take along a designated driver, or forego an extra drink and wait until the alcohol wears off. And it’s a matter of being patient and not bearing down on the accelerator to get to work all of two minutes faster. Small decisions that have large effects – especially when the wrong one is made.
Last weekend at least six wrong decisions were made, and police had to make six very sad visits to the families of victims. Drive safely, Manitobans. It’s your decision.