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South Shore Breaker - 2021-11-24

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Reckless driving a scourge; changes in child safety over the years

FRONT PAGE

PETER SIMPSON

Those reckless road rogues who insist on driving at excessive speeds are going to kill themselves, and/or innocent motorists. Taking such dangerous risks, they might as well be playing Russian Roulette. The Nova Scotia RCMP reported it charged 43 drivers with stunting across the province during September and October. At the time of this writing, November statistics were unavailable. According to the RCMP, stunting is defined as “any person who operates a motor vehicle on a highway in a race, contest, while performing a stunt, or on a bet or wager.” Also, anyone driving 50 km/h over the posted speed limit can be charged with stunting. The six most reckless stunting incidents on Nova Scotia roadways in September and October were reported as follows: 215 km/h in a 110 km/h zone on Hwy. 104 in Beaver Mountain; 195 km/h in a 110 km/h zone on Hwy. 104 in Mount Thom; 185 km/h in a 110 km/h zone on Hwy. 104 in Oxford; 176 km/h in a 110 km/h zone on Hwy. 104 in East Mountain; 173 km/h in a 110 km/h zone on Hwy. 104 in Valley; and 172 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on Hwy. 101 in Hebron. Five of those six stunting incidents occurred on Hwy. 104, the scene of numerous fatalities over the years. Is saving a few minutes of driving time worth the $2,422 fine for a first offence, six points charged against your licence and an immediate seven-day licence suspension? Absolutely not! Drivers found guilty of stunting receive an unpleasant surprise when they learn of the hefty premium hike at insurance renewal time. Their providers might also decide the reckless speeders are not worth the risk and drop them as clients, forcing them to seek insurance from a pricey secondary insurer. And when a stunting violation shows up on a driver's abstract, securing a job that requires the use of a vehicle might actually be beyond reach. That's bad news for a family's primary bread winner. According to details provided by RCMP Cpl. Lisa Croteau, during the past decade, including this year, nearly 500 fatal collisions occurred on highways patrolled by Nova Scotia RCMP. This does not include fatalities in areas policed by municipal agencies or deaths that don't meet the province's criteria: Not on a provincial highway, collisions caused by medical episodes, or confirmed suicides. Automobile reviewers certainly don't help to discourage speeding when they boast a certain German-built, streetlegal SUV “blows past the 100 km/h mark in 3.3 seconds and tops out at 300 km/h.” If you spot a motorist who appears to be driving dangerously, at excessive speed, and/ or under the influence of alcohol or drug, call the RCMP at 1-800-803-7267. If it's an emergency, call 911. Here's what I'm thinking: Don't consider it snitching, because your responsible action might just save someone's life. KIDS SAFETY, THEN AND NOW When it comes to child safety and security, we live in far different times than, say, the '50s and '60s. Recently, parents in Halifax worried publicly that their sons and daughters, on the way to and from junior high school, had to navigate marked crosswalks without the help of crossing guards. I wonder if the kids thought this was cool or if they were embarrassed by it. And many kids today are driven to and from school. The older kids likely cringe when parents or grandparents drop them off at the school door, right in front of their friends. Oh, the horror! Growing up in mid-century Toronto, my friends, siblings and I hoofed it to elementary school unescorted, crossing busy roads at major intersections, and we weren't tethered electronically to somewhat over-protective parents either. The end of our school day was around 3:45 p.m. My friends and I usually got into mischief until supper. Our parents didn't have a clue where we were, nor did they worry for a second about our welfare, because we always made it home safely and uninjured. Parenting is vastly different today, when both parents likely work, and kids are left with grandparents or daycare centres. Sadly, there appears to be more single-parent households these days. Growing up, we ate meals loaded with allergens, preservatives and Lord knows what other harmful and arteryclogging substances. My dad made Sunday breakfast consisting of bacon dripping with fat, slippery eggs fried in the bacon fat and bread that had been browned in, you guessed it, the same bacon fat. Boys played with lead soldiers and girls wore shiny costume jewellery made from lead and cadmium, a chemical used in nuclear reactors. Other toys contained ethyl acetate, acetone, polyvinyl acetate or mercury. When riding in the family car — a cavernous 1956 Desoto — my siblings and I jumped around on the sofa-size back seat, taking turns stretching out on the rear window ledge. My dad encouraged this unsafe practice, believing it kept us busy. Different times indeed. In 1976, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to make seatbelts mandatory. Nova Scotia followed eight years later. We didn't wear helmets while playing hockey, baseball or riding bicycles, which, in my case, might explain a couple things. I once scored a critical late-game goal after being knocked on my keister. A teammate banked the puck off the side of my forehead into the net. I still carry the scar, proudly. Then there's the sharp metal lawn darts. The fun always ended when a kid screamed to mom and dad that his older brother tossed a lawn dart into his arm, After mom treated the wound with iodine or mercurochrome (look it up, kids), dad would tell the crybaby to man up and walk it off. Sorry, Mark. We played with woodburning and glass-blowing kits. My parents gave me both those white-hot skin-roasters when I was 10 or 11, and I played with them unsupervised. They combined extreme heat, sharp objects and molten glass. What could possibly go wrong, right? Kidding aside, I'm grateful youngsters today, including our four granddaughters, are protected from the many health and safety hazards codgers like me had to cluelessly endure while growing up. Peter Simpson is a veteran journalist and former awardwinning housing industry CEO who lives in Dayspring. Here’s What I’m Thinking appears bi-weekly in the South Shore Breaker.

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