A Jan. 30, 2014 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Distracted driving now deadlier than impaired driving.” A Feb. 4, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Cellphone use behind the wheel could be stopped with technology.” The subhead reads: “Distracted driving’s potential to kill or injure others needs preventive policy now, Canadian doctors say.”
An Aug. 9, 2013 YouTube video is entitled: “From One Second To The Next – Texting While Driving Documentary – Werner Herzog.”
A Sept. 30, 2014 CBC podcast is entitled: “A Deadly Wandering: How texting and driving killed two rocket scientists.”
An Oct. 7, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Talking cars actually more dangerous, studies find.”
An April 2, 2015 Mashable article is entitled: “Nissan’s drowsiness-detection alert wakes you up if you fall asleep at the wheel.”
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This post is with reference to an Aug. 30, 2013 Globe and Mail article regarding distracted driving. It’s a good article – well worth reading. The article has prompted me to reflect on some close calls involving traffic that I’ve had over the years.
I’m reminded of an Aug. 29, 2013 Globe article entitled: “Study finds being poor places heavy burden on mental capacity.”
The latter article opens with the following sentence:
- Poverty is like a tax on the brain, a team of researchers has reported, because it imposes a measurable burden on the mental capacity of those who must struggle with it day after day.
The article’s concluding sentence reads:
- Amedeo D’Angiulli, a cognitive neuroscientist at Carleton University in Ottawa, praised the study but was cautious about its conclusions, which he said sidestep poverty’s impact on brain development and other factors that may account for why different income groups perform differently in certain circumstances.
The article features a description of the amount of focused attention that is required when driving in the rain.
Driving. in a rainstorm, as we may know from experience, features reduced visibility and other factors that make it easier for collisions to occur than would otherwise be the case.
An Aug. 30, 2013 CTV article conveys the same message as the above-noted Globe and Mail article about distracted driving.
An Aug. 30, 2013 CBC article, meanwhile, addresses holiday weekend traffic fatalities from still another perspective. The article is entitled: “Road fatalities rise on long weekends, but not for the usual reasons.”
Backing into a collision
With the passage of the years comes some measure of cognitive decline, according to neuroscience research. Anecdotal evidence points that way also.
Thus I’m pleased to share with you the logistics of backing into a collision.
It’s a bright day. You’re wearing sunglasses. You get in the car. Some kids are playing on the sidewalk. You speak with one of them. You back up from your driveway as you always do, not thinking too much of what you’re backing up into. It’s a routine maneuver you’ve done a million times. What you’re thinking of is where you want to go, and what you need to do when you get there. However, this day a car is illegally parked on the other side of the road. You know the rest of the story.
Falling asleep at the wheel
When one is younger, one can drive all night and stay awake. When one gets older, a wakeup call may be required to enable a person to realize that – especially in the early afternoon, when the circadian rhythm is associated with a period of pronounced drowsiness – it’s easy to get too drowsy to drive.
Updates related to driving while drowsy
A March 20, 2015 Toronto Star article is entitled: “Tech Talk: Keeping watch against the drowsy driver: Falling asleep at the wheel is a killer. The race is on for sensors and systems to alert drivers when they start to fade.”
The DrowsyDriving.org website features Memorials and Testimonials related to Drowsy Driving.
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For a short time in the early 1970s, I was employed as a chockerman on a mountainside logging crew between Kitimat and Terrace in northern British Columbia. I recall an occasion where the crew witnessed a close call involving logging equipment that could, with a slight adjustment in timing, have caused a fatality. Someone said, “Close calls don’t count,” and the work continued. In retrospect, I’ve concluded that close calls warrant plenty of thought and reflection.
The pause that averts a fatal collision
These thoughts bring to mind three occasions where a pause has saved a life.
I recall a day in the False Creek area of Vancouver around the very early 1970s before False Creek was gentrified. I was standing at a street corner, with my long hair and beard, about to cross at a traffic light. The light had just turned green. For whatever reason – for some reason; what the reason was I do not know – I sensed that it was not quite time for me to start walking across the street.
Just at that moment, I looked straight ahead of me, across the roadway. In a flash of movement, proceeding from left to right, I witnessed an image that has stayed in mind, these many years later, as fresh and vivid as it was the day that I encountered it. I can hear the laughter, the sense of enjoyment on a bright sunny day in Vancouver, not far from Kitsilano Beach.
An open convertible sports car driven by a bearded, long-haired young man, laughing while peering forward through the windshield, clearly stoned out of his gourd, was on its merry way through the red light. Two young women, also high on whatever and clearly enjoying the occasion, joined in the merriment.
I didn’t look to see where the car was going, after it passed the intersection. I just thought: “Something told me not to cross at that point.” At times I’ve thought: How did I pick up the message that I should pause for a moment?
Twenty years later, I was in my car at a stop light near Lawrence and Bathurst in North York in Toronto. The light turned green. I was about to move the car into the intersection when, again, for whatever reason, I decided to wait a second. At that moment, a car sped through the intersection, travelling left to right at a good clip just in front of the hood of my car. Had I started to move just as the light turned green, I would have been T-boned.
Now I always wait a second.
About a decade after that event, I was again a pedestrian, this time in Mississauga. I was about to cross at a traffic light; the light had turned green. Just as I was starting to step off the curb, I glanced to the right and saw a sight that has been seared into my memory.
A woman in her thirties or early forties, in business attire, was clutching the steering wheel tightly. The mid-size, late-model vehicle was in a position where I thought at once, with a sense of immediate and acute shock: “This is not where a car is supposed to be.”
The scene appeared as in slow motion. I saw the driver’s knitted brow. I saw her leaning forward. I saw the look of intense determination on her face. She had to be somewhere at a specified time and she could not be late. She had to get to where she was going. The fact that the light had just turned red for her had no meaning in the circumstance. She would not have noticed me. She sped through the intersection. I yelled out at her. Some other driver or pedestrian at some distance, across the roadway that I had been just about to step into, yelled out in response. Then I looked both ways and began walking forward.
Fullerton Legal Services
With regard to traffic collisions, I’ve had occasion to call upon Fullerton Legal Services. I strongly recommend such services, in the event you are charged with a Motor Vehicle Infraction.
Whatever your age, there’s much to be said, as well, for taking a defensive driving course, not just once but regularly throughout the course of your driving career.