UR Opinion

Traffic terrorists: monsters on our roads

George  Czerny

By George Czerny

Letter to the editor:

We have created a group of modern-day monsters in our society.
This group's members are distracted drivers; those people who use cellphones and texting devices while driving. Unfortunately, we see them every day, either with one hand and a cellphone to an ear, or juggling a device as they text while driving.
I call such drivers “traffic terrorists” because through their distracted actions they are causing damage to vehicles, injury and in some cases even death.
A report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, prepared for The Co-operators Group Limited, notes that 23 per cent of fatal crashes and 27 per cent of major injury crashes involved distraction as a contributing factor in 2012. I have not seen any media coverage of this report. Pity!
The penalties for distracted drivers were increased in Ontario not long ago. Elsewhere in Canada, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, penalties are paltry.
Even with increased penalties there as a threat, the distracted drivers seem too preoccupied with their telephone chatter, or texting, to care.
I'm 70 years old and in some 54 years of driving have watched efforts to stop people from driving while impaired by alcohol. Those efforts proceeded at a sad-situation, snail's pace while victim after victim died, leaving grieving loved ones behind.
Now, we have traffic terrorists. They exude a different form of impairment along with disdain for the safety of others. These traffic terrorists get away with being a monster on our roadways because we let them. That permission, in some cases, ends up with either vehicle damage, personal injury, or death.
I'd like to reach 80 without being affected again by a traffic terrorist. I'd like to reach 80 knowing that my children and their children have not been the victims of a traffic terrorist.
I am spurred to write this because a traffic terrorist smashed into the rear of my car while I was parked at a traffic light on a clear, dry-pavement day in Barrie. My wife and I are lucky, we escaped serious injury, but our car was totaled. However, because it was an old car (even though it was in impeccable condition) we received market value for it. That payment could in no way compensate us for the loss of the vehicle, replacement of the vehicle, or the inconvenience thrust upon us by a distracted driver who was charged with careless driving.
On that day, at that crash site, a police officer told me that two, or three, similar accidents occur there daily; all because of distracted drivers.
We should all be as outraged by traffic terrorists, people who put us at risk, as we are with impaired drivers.
Imagine taking a driving test with an inspector in the passenger seat. Imagine answering a telephone call, or texting, while taking that test.
Do you think you would pass? The answer is obvious, but the solution to getting rid of distracted drivers is not as obvious; nor are people incensed enough to demand remedial action.
If you are a distracted driver, make it your New Year's resolution to change that bad habit.
I think time should not be wasted nibbling away at half-measures which bring tiny results.
Let's save lives, injury and property damage by leap-frogging into an all-out attack – immediately – on traffic terrorists.
Let's make the penalty severe, immediately. I suggest an automatic three-month licence suspension for anybody caught driving with a cellphone to her, or his, ear; or texting. Add to that suspension an immediate hike in insurance premiums. Let's not be namby-pamby about a problem which can have killer consequences.
We should all actively work to get a solution to the problem of distracted drivers before a traffic terrorist bites you on your back bumper.

From: George Czerny, 50 McKean Crescent, Collingwood, Ontario, Canada L9Y 0C2.
Telephone: 705-293-1569.

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