Monday, January 21, 2008

little bit scared of what comes after

I've never really been into the daily carnage stuff out of New York and Toronto - sure it proves the point that driving is dangerous as hell, but it does so in a fairly morbid way.
Having said that, I'm about to do exactly the same thing! : 0

Some friends from Toronto drove up to Orillia this weekend for our book club meeting. This was incredibly kind of them, and Annalise and I really appreciated that they'd drive up and stay with us overnight in our new city, but then they got caught in the middle of the massive pileup on the 400 on Sunday afternoon.

They were all okay, no major injuries, but Mark's car was totalled, and they basically spent all of Sunday sitting on a Greyhound bus on the 400, and after leaving our place at 11:00 a.m., they didn't get home until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.

If you've checked this blog often enough, you'll know that I don't like driving and the automobile whatsoever, but I do have to admit that since we've designed our cities the way we have, and because Canada doesn't have the train links that you use in Europe and Japan and elsewhere, the car is often a necessary evil.

But the 400 series highways here in Ontario, those highways where there are four or five or six lanes of traffic with vehicles exiting and merging and all going 100 to 150 km an hour, really freak me out. In fact, I think they are just plain wrong.
These highways, as I've said to Annalise, depend on every single driver having perfect concentration throughout the entire course of his or her drive. If you drive from downtown Toronto, up the DVP, and then east to Oshawa on the 401, and if your attention wavers for a second, then you could kill yourself and possibly dozens of other people.
I just don't think humans possess the ability to concentrate that perfectly, especially not in the age of the fast food meal, the Tim Horton's coffee, the IPOD and the cell phone.
And I think the often overlooked traffic accident statistics bear this out, according to one source, automobile accidents account for over 3000 fatalities a year in Canada, and over 220 000 other injuries.
In the States it is obviously worse, with over 40,000 fatalites, and over 4 millions injuries per year.

So, as I said, I think we're really over-estimating ourselves when we think that the big highways are really a safe way for humans to get themselves from point A to point B.

Maybe this will help: a report has come out of Trent University saying that road tolls in the Greater Toronto Area, and a steeper tax on fuel are necessary to help fund public transit while simultaneously moving people away from using their automobiles. Indeed, let's get as many of those cars off the road as we can.


Revrunner said...

Among the reasons why I'm extremely leery about getting out on some of the roads in my area on my bike and sharing them with motorists. I've had too many close calls.

Snakebite said...

Glad to read your friends are OK after the mishap. Also glad to read about the increased tax on fuel to making car transport a bit tougher on the pocket book.