Opinion – Dangerous Roads? Or Dangerous Drivers!

through the looking glassBy Marianne Curtis

When listening to people discussing our roads it sounds like we have the worst roads in the world. There is truth to that, because some of our roads are rough like speed bumps and the gravel road become slick after the slightest rain. However, if you are following the rules of the road these conditions become hazards, not deterrents for a good defensive driver.

What is a defensive driver? A defensive driver takes every reasonable precaution to prevent traffic accidents, over and above what is required by law. It is my opinion, that many people that I encounter on the road daily, are NOT defensive drivers.

I live about a mile of one of the most “dangerous intersections” in the southeast – local residents refer to the intersection at the corner of PR #206 and PR #311 as “death corner”.

Recently, another collision nearly took the life of a young Landmark man. Two others walked away with minor injuries. These three people were very lucky! Over the years I have attended the funerals of a few people that did not make it through that same intersection.

Cause of these collisions? Usually someone either did not stop at the stop sign, or attempted to beat traffic that are heading east or west. I have lost count of the number of times that I have had to brake before continuing, because the driver of a south or north bound car appears to have forgotten that they have a brake petal.

At this site, the problem is not the intersection. After three youths were killed over a decade ago, rumble strips were installed, a flashing red beacon put on top of the sign, streetlights and a reduced speed limit were also implemented. Even the area farmers plant crops that will not impede visibility from any direction.

Yet people still ignore the signs!

How many times are people going to blame our highways for accidents that are caused mainly by driver error? It is the people that take chances performing a “Manitoba stop”, passed vehicles where they should not, or speed through lights and stop signs that are usually the cause of accidents.

Recently when traveling towards Mitchell, I had to pass a farmer on an old tractor. He was driving half on the shoulder and half into my lane. Can you believe that someone actually passed ME while I was passing the farmer?

A defensive driver knows that a stop sign means stop, not slow down, look and then proceed. They know not to take chances with peoples lives – and not just their own.

I am beginning to see the merit of having drivers take a defensive driving course or refresher test every ten or fifteen years. While people are busy blaming a “bad stretch of highway” or a “dangerous intersection” for their mishaps – other drivers know that its not the road, it’s the person propelling the vehicle, that is control.

Drivers need to stop blaming the roads and start paying attention to the signs! Personally, I am one driver that wants to arrive home safely to kiss my husband and my children. I do not want to become a statistic – and I do not think that anyone else does either.

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