As the old saying goes: courtesy costs nothing. Arguably, the opposite may be proved true when a lack of courtesy on the road causes a car accident. It seems trivial and may even sound trite, but excessive losses reported by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) are, in part, being attributed to discourteous drivers disrespectful of some of the most basic rules of the road.
Many movies today feature car chases meant to thrill viewers with edge-of-the-seat action, in the style of "Bonnie and Clyde." When real life intersects with the kind of mayhem depicted in such films, it makes for a whole different -- and terrifying -- storyline for British Columbia residents. It takes only one out-of-control driver to endanger the lives of all in his path by causing a car accident, and possibly taking the lives of innocent bystanders.
Waiting at a designated bus stop, whether in an urban or a rural setting, is generally considered a safe space. There is rarely reason to expect bodily harm, as British Columbia commuters embark and disembark, lugging groceries or other items and often accompanied by children. When a vehicle appears, veering dangerously out of control, the danger of a bus rider being the victim of a pedestrian accident suddenly becomes terrifyingly real.
Our literature is full of dastardly deeds that take place under cover of darkness. The nighttime has been mythologized as a frightening and even perilous time. Some people, such as one hit-and-run driver in British Columbia, seem to believe that their decisions as well as their actions are rendered invisible at night, especially when they flee the scene of a pedestrian accident.
Ancient beliefs in the "genius loci," or spirit of place, describe locations imbued with intense energy or are, as some say, the abode of great bear spirits or even of fairies. Many such places have been identified in British Columbia where urban centers are nestled among awe-inspiring natural landscapes. When a pedestrian accident follows a fatal one within mere days at the exact same crosswalk, it adds another, deadly dimension to the notion of spirit of place.
When boarding an airplane, some passengers -- more nervous than others -- will choose seats that favour safety over stunning aerial views. By contrast, passengers climbing into a van may pay scant attention to where they sit, despite statistics showing that a car accident is far more likely than an air accident. Sometimes, as on one fateful ride along British Columbia's fabled Sea-to-Sky Highway, there is no seat safe from injury or tragic loss of life.
No matter what state road conditions are in, some drivers remain oblivious. As such, some accident events cannot be blamed on the extreme weather that continues to dog British Columbia this winter. In a recent car accident, one driver, who apparently didn't know when to quit, left one crash scene only to cause a second collision further on.
Many young families in British Columbia choose to live in neighbourhoods where traffic is minimal, largely local and with appropriate speed limits. Sometimes, city planning authorities will forge ahead with enhancements, like bicycle paths, which alter traffic patterns so significantly that a pedestrian accident becomes more, not less, likely. Such a change may have contributed to an 11-year-old being hit by a motor vehicle in front of her own home.
Ever since the advent of pop psychology and the Me Generation, there have been labels assigned to the following generations, such as Generation X or millennials. In British Columbia, our young people are sometimes chided, in print or online, for self-centered or irresponsible behaviour. In a recent case, the quick and selfless action of a teenager saved a friend from becoming a casualty in a pedestrian accident.
Once drivers shift into gear, their mindset switches seamlessly to steering a big hunk of steel up and down motorways, with all due caution. When they step out of a car, even for a minute, they become, for all intents and purposes, pedestrians. Sometimes, they neglect to switch to the pedestrian mindset, which requires a different awareness of the vehicles circulating nearby. These were the circumstances in a recent incident in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, where an elderly driver lost his life in what was reported as a pedestrian accident.