Driving safely in Brantford

– Priscilla Popp, staff

The city of Brantford has experienced an alarmingly high number of car accidents in recent weeks, leaving many residents concerned for their safety and security in a city bursting with students.

Over the last month alone, there have been three vehicle-pedestrian accidents which have included students, a staggering number for such a small campus.

Car accidents are nothing new in Brantford. There were two teenagers killed in September of 2009, and just six months ago another crash left a nineteen year old alive, but subsequently facing impaired driving charges.

According to Statistics Canada, from the year 2000 to 2004, there were 44,192 accidental deaths in Canada, with 32 per cent (or 14,082) being the result of motor vehicle accidents.

Notably, people in the 16-24 age demographic made up 3,417 of these accidents.

“I think that could’ve been entirely preventable with the right education and awareness,” Sonia Assi, a fourth year con-ed student said, adding that “a more detailed drivers ed course” would be beneficial to teens.

The fact is that travelling, or in a good majority of cases commuting, is inevitable for most people. With jobs in Kitchener, Hamilton, and even Toronto, getting on the highway every day simply isn’t a choice to be made.

In a study conducted by StatsCan in 2010, the average Canadian took twenty six minutes to travel to work.

As Statistics Canada notes, many different factors play into the cause of car accidents, but there are a few simple recommendations that should be kept in mind.

Anti-lock braking, airbags, improved seat belts, and child restraints can all help decrease the risk of accidents.

Another important consideration is the use of cell phones while driving. Texting and making calls are equally dangerous. While the OPP has acted disparagingly when it comes to fines (be caught talking on your cell while behind the wheel and be prepared to pay $155 to $500), there is still room for improvement.

Assi admits she finds it hard not to use her phone in the car sometimes, but said she gets “frustrated with other people doing it because I know how easy it is to loose focus.”

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario says that people using cell phones behind the wheel are four times more likely to be in a crash compared to drivers solely focused on the road.

For many teens, it may be worth investing in a “hands free” kit, offered through companies like Bluetooth which promote undistracted driving. The kits are inexpensive (there’s one at FutureShop for $50), and allow you to talk while still keeping all eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel. While not perfect they are a decent alternative in a society filled with distracted drivers.

Kimber Williams, a third year Criminology major, said, “I feel that the movement [with the fines], has helped people resist texting and driving but I still think it’s a major problem.”

With the winter weather approaching, it is also important to remember the change in driving style that icy roads and white out conditions can cause.

Assi said that it’s important to “correspond your speed to match conditions,” and Williams echoed “I will definitely reduce speed after snowfall.”

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