Motorists often complain about checkpoints and the RCMP’s almost incessant traffic enforcement initiatives on our province’s highways, but the latest statistics would indicate these measures are working.
With three months to go in the year, the province is on pace to set a record for the fewest highway deaths in a year. At 51, there have been four fewer deaths on Nova Scotia highways than during the same nine-month period last year.
RCMP Insp. Sput McCarthy echoed the feelings of many law enforcement officials when he said that drivers may complain about checkpoints, such as last weekend’s Operation Impact, but enforcement is playing a role in reducing the carnage on Nova Scotia’s highways.
What’s troubling is the fact that many of those fatalities that are occurring are easily preventable with 27 per cent of fatal crashes involving alcohol and 20 per cent involving the non use of seatbelts while driver inattention also plays a role in traffic collisions as motorists talk on cellphones, text while driving or take their attention off the road.
The province has taken steps to reduce driver inattention by banning the use of hand-held cellphones while operating a motor vehicle.
For their part, police have stepped up enforcement on seatbelt use and speeding and non-compliance is coming at a high cost in terms of fines and licence suspensions. However, as much as police work to make our highways safer it’s up to every motorists to exercise caution when they get behind the wheel.
Even more frustrating is that despite the improvement in highway deaths, there are still too many people driving after having a few drinks and there are more than a few getting into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.
As far as we have come as a society in ending inappropriate driving behaviours, there is still a long way to go before our highways are free of the trauma and destruction that comes with issues such as speeding, impaired driving, seatbelt use and driver inattention.
While we can be thankful for the job police are doing in making our roads safer, everyone has to accept the fact that they too have responsibility for their actions.