EDITORIAL: Slow down, stay safe

You can never have enough reminders to be safe on B.C.'s roads this summer.

Near the beginning of every summer – before people take to our province’s highways in greater numbers for family vacations, music festivals, camping or the like – the word goes out about staying safe on the road.

Police and other community groups – not to mention countless editorials in newspapers and othe media – are quick to espouse the dangers of excessive speed, distracted driving, driving under the influence or driving without undo care.

But despite the warnings, the summer never goes by without hearing of serious crashes both here in the Lower Mainland, and elsewhere across B.C. In the last few weeks alone, major crashes on the Coquihalla Highway and Highway 1 in the Okanagan – two involving buses – have closed roads, and resulted in serious injuries, even death.

Perhaps drivers’ attention spans are diminished this time of year, or maybe there is some scientific reason for what seems to be an increase in traffic accidents.

Or maybe it’s just bad luck.

For certain, during the summer, there are many drivers anxious – perhaps over-anxious – to get to their destination, be it a summer cabin, or simply to a family barbecue.

Regardless of the journey’s end, it’s worth taking a little extra time to plan ahead for the travel, whether it be the route you’re taking, the time you depart or a combination of the two. Both can pose challenges with more people on the roads, and create unnecessary stress that often leads to aggressive and unsafe driving actions.

We’ve all seen people passing when it’s unsafe, driving at overly high speeds or tailgating, to name but a few indiscretions. If no crash or mishap occurs as a result of such actions, the people victimized by such aggressive driving can count themselves lucky. But that’s not always the case.

As the popular bumper sticker states, “Failure to plan on your part does not dictate an emergency on my part.” How true. Demonstrating patience is not necessarily taught by driving schools or listed in any handbook, but it’s a critically important aspect of defensive driving.

Preventing all examples of dangerous driving on the highway, or even lower-speed roads, is impossible, but we can all still do our part to limit the damage.

At the very least, remember to breathe when behind the wheel. You’ll get there eventually, even without driving like a knucklehead.