Respectful shrines or highway distractions?

2635017283_32b122a7d4_b

More roadside memorials may equal fewer accidents

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in the Other Press. Jan. 7, 2014

We often see them at intersections and long stretches of highway: roadside memorials set up in remembrance of those lost as a result of traffic accidents and collisions. These shrines commonly take the form of a cross, some flowers, some candles, perhaps a picture of the departed. They give no details of the crash, no signs of the carnage, and there’s rarely even any damage to the roadside. Regardless of the cause, roadside memorials offer people a chance to mourn the loss of a loved one, in addition to cautioning other drivers and reminding them about the dangers of the road.

According to Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics, an estimated 2,227 fatalities occurred on the roads in 2010. These numbers seem meaningless to us as we rush through traffic, disregarding the speed limit signs. Associating numbers with people is not an easy thing to do. People just don’t personify numbers that way, so it’s hard to sympathize with a number. Like Joseph Stalin once said, “The death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic.”

Some consider roadside memorials to be a distraction; drivers shouldn’t have to feel wary when they navigate through a hazardous stretch of road, they should be focussed on what they need to do, instead of worrying about those who have died. But what better way to remind drivers to stay focussed, than to show the consequences of negligent driving? We often get so concentrated on the things we need to do and the places we need to be that we forget about our morality. After all, the most important thing about being alive is living.

Roadside memorials shouldn’t only be sites for mourning the dead; they should be visual reminders alerting us that we are still alive, and that the safety of us, our passengers, and other people on the road is alive as well. Don’t let the deaths of others be in vain—we should always learn something from the mistakes of others. That way, the story of our lives won’t result in tragedy and our memories won’t wind up in a statistic.

On the highways around Quito, Ecuador, drivers and passengers can often see blue hearts painted onto the road. In Spanish, those blue hearts are referred to as “Corazones Azules,” and each one symbolizes a death upon the road. This campaign was initiated after a school bus crashed in 2007, with very few survivors, to remind drivers to drive safely in all conditions. More than 40 blue hearts now mark the roads of the accident-prone country built upon the lip of the Andes Mountains. Canadians should take inspiration from that idea; small, unobtrusive markings may do more than mere speed limit signs and police radar.

Fines, warnings, and criminal recorders may take those who violate the rules off the streets—but it’s more important to put the humanity back into the drivers. We all have places to go, but for now, let’s avoid the hospital, the morgue, and the cemetery.

Beautiful women a hazard for male commuters

june_crash

Traffic accidents increase due to the sexy summer fashion

Formerly published in The Other Press. June 4 2013

A satirical article, by Elliot Chan, Traffic Hazard

Summer is a beautiful time of year, unless you’re a male commuter. Research released early last week by The Men’s Automobile Limitation Experts (MALE) has confirmed that during the summer months, men are 32 per cent more likely to be involved in an automobile accident.

Dr. Carson Donovan, head researcher at MALE, explains the breakthrough discovery: “It’s not that men are bad drivers when it is sunny. They are still far superior,” he chuckles, “It’s just that beautiful women become a greater disturbance. They hide themselves in the winter, and then bam! Summer arrives. Imagine having a stripper pole at every intersection. I won’t give any change to dirty panhandlers, but I’ll drop a dollar for the honey leaving the petrol station. You know what I mean.”

“It is unbelievable how some chicks dress at bus stops,” Dr. Donovan adds with a wink and a masculine elbow nudge. “If we want to protect the safety of our male drivers, they should not be allowed to wear such revealing clothes—even on a sunny day. Sorry boys, but it’s safety first.”

Close behind driving under the influence and excessive speeding, attractive girls at bus stops are the main cause of male-related traffic accidents. Every minute a man across the province is getting injured due to a hot girl sighting.

Benjamin M. Williams, loving husband and a father of two girls, wants the government to make a change. “I am a man that worries about his family,” says Williams, “just the idea of other guys getting distracted by women on the street frightens me. I often drive my daughters to school and I would hate for anyone to get distracted and hit my 2001 Subaru. Beautiful girls should not be allowed to dress so provocatively.”

Dakota Patrice, executive and founder of the Mind Your Own Business, I’m Not A Helpless Woman Foundation had this to say: “Women don’t dress for men to notice them. We dress because we need to wear clothes. Men should just watch where they are going. What? We should wear sweaters when it’s 30 degrees out? We’d get all hot and sweaty.”

When asked to introduce a new dress-code bylaw for female transit users, the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, replied, “Distraction is a natural part of driving. God knows how many times I’ve nearly ran into the car in front of me just because I was watching some dog poop. Stunning girls are just like pooping dogs; you can’t stop them.”