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Our Whole School Is Crying

Another week, another textbook case: a single car crash on Thursday February 12th at 8:20 pm on Canada Way in which two 18-year-old male high school students died. Witnesses have reportedly said the driver was driving erratically, passing vehicles in the oncoming and the inside curb lanes. When he eventually lost control of the vehicle, it struck the curb, then a pole and rolled, coming to rest roof down.

One of the young men died instantly; the other later in hospital. A host of the usual risk factors are involved: young men in the 16 – 24 years age category, an end-of-the-week nighttime, and speeding. Media reports say that, at this point in the investigation, street racing and alcohol are not believed to be factors.

The blogs record the heartbreak: “Our whole school is crying,” said one blogger. Blaming the victims is apparently not endorsed. “We all make mistakes” and “Think of their families” are some of the retorts.

Fatal single car crashes do not tend to inspire the usual call for more law enforcement and stricter penalties. An unstated hope for deterrence through simple storytelling can be inferred.

Online scrolling through the regular list of media sources reporting this story includes a link to an unusual source: www.educationforthedrivingmasses.com, a website, “dedicated to informing Canadians about traffic incidents across the country and providing tips and awareness to prevent future crashes.”

The mission statement for www.educationforthedrivingmasses.com elaborates: “The only way to keep ourselves safe from crashes and injury is to educate ourselves about the dangers of poor driving habits, bad decisions and the consequences of careless driving and inattention to what we are doing and our surroundings.” With this purpose in mind the site has set out since 2006 to compile a comprehensive list of traffic incidents across Canada organized by date, and indexed by location, results and, in some cases, age of the at-fault motorist. These lists include text from other media. Separate lists (by name) have been compiled of the victims and the at-fault or accused motorists. In these lists, a description of the crash and commentary is followed by online comments. The site editor claims to post daily.

Another interesting feature of this site are the links. Grieving families and friends of victims, wanting to make some sense of their loss, are increasingly turning to the internet to vent, to honour, to remember and to compile petitions for changes in the law. A few of these links include:

• Help Eliminate All Road Tragedies (The HEART) calls for, “stiffer penalties for convictions in dangerous driving causing death or bodily harm cases.”

• Families Fighting Careless Driving is dedicated to changing, “the laws relating to careless driving causing death” and to having, “more preventative measures to reduce unnecessary traffic fatalities.” • Families Against Crime and Trauma (FACT) is seeking to create change in the Criminal Justice System, to provide guidance and direction pertaining to court procedures, and to educate the community and victims about their rights.

Public roadways are not racing tracks. Obviously, some drivers still do not understand this.

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