Why bother? Just slow down

by EVAN MATTHEWS, editor

I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again. Drivers around here need to slow down.

I just don’t understand why so many drivers race from A to B, drive like absolute maniacs, all to save themselves a matter of minutes.

The most recent example in my life was while I was driving to Jasper. I was about halfway to Jasper from Valemount.

A pick-up truck travelling behind me was growing larger in my rearview mirror at an alarming rate. Eventually, the truck was no more than 10 or 15 feet behind me.

Ten or even 15 feet is not a safe following distance while travelling in excess of 100 KM/H, in case you were wondering. I digress.
Unfortunately for the both of us, he couldn’t pass for some time.

Eventually, when he did pass, he shot me a dirty look and continued on his way.

Yet, when I rolled into Jasper, I came to a stop at the first set of lights, and who was sitting beside me? It was hard for me to not just smile and shake my head.

The Provincial collision statistics for the stretch of highway I’m talking about — Highway 5 and 16 between Tête Jaune Cache and Jasper — are decreasing, sure, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a dangerous stretch of road.

235 crashes were recorded between Tête Jaune and Jasper (on the B.C. side of the border) over the last five years – The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The Robson Valley RCMP reported 41 collisions between Dec. 20, 2016 and Jan. 8, 2017, equating to 19 days total, meaning there were 2.16 accidents per day on this specific corridor over the holidays.

I’m sorry, but there is just no excuse good enough to justify the high number of accidents.

I see it every time I get in my vehicle and turn onto the highway.

Whether it’s a semi-trailer, a pick-up truck, and SUV or a tiny little car, I always feel as though I’m the slowest driver on the road.

I actually get a little bit self-conscious, because I feel like I’m an inferior driver, or I’m my driving abilities aren’t as good as the next guy’s.

But if I’m driving at 80 or 70 KM/H on a Provincial Highway, it isn’t because I don’t want to get to my destination, it’s because I want to get there alive. It’s not often drivers need to go this slow, but if they do, it’s because they’re leery of going any faster, and for good reason.

Here’s the reality.

Two-hundred-and-thirty-five crashes were recorded between Tête Jaune and Jasper (on the B.C. side of the border) over the last five years.

There were 45 crashes involving semi-trailers or commercial vehicles over the same span of time on the same stretch of highway. 23 of those crashes involved serious injury, and three involved death.

The most recent death was that of a 20-year-old girl from Prince George, originally from Edmonton, named Sydney Fulljames-Camazzola.

Sydney Fulljames-Camazzola is not just one of the aforementioned statistics.

Photo courtesy of Tyler Fulljames Facebook A photo of the recently deceased Sydney Fulljames-Camazzola. She was involved in a fatal collision near Mount Robson over the holidays.
Photo courtesy of Tyler Fulljames Facebook
A photo of the recently deceased Sydney Fulljames-Camazzola. She was involved in a fatal collision near Mount Robson over the holidays.

Fulljames-Camazzola was a daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece, auntie, and a friend to many — this text is verbatim from the card given out at her Celebration of Life.

My heart is broken for her family. I’ve been watching her relatives, specifically her brother; share the news of Sydney’s loss via social media, while making her funeral arrangements.

She is, was, roughly the same age as my younger sister. I can’t imagine. I don’t even want to, never mind actually having to endure that kind of loss.

RCMP are still investigating the collision that took Fulljames-Camazolla’s life, but at this point, nobody is totally sure of what happened, other than two cars were involved.

Let me be clear, this issue is not about placing blame, certainly not on Sydney Fulljames-Camazzola. Accidents happen. I know this. What happened to this poor girl is tragic.

But my point is to all the drivers out there who drive so erratically, and so irresponsibly, that if they aren’t happy with your speed — you’ll notice them creeping up in your rearview mirror until they’re on top of you, essentially.

Slow down. Why are you driving — behaving — so irresponsibly? It’s a matter of minutes versus a matter of years, or the rest of a family’s existence.

But I have a message for the drivers who are responsible, too.

Don’t let the erratic, speed-crazed and irresponsible drivers impact your driving whatsoever. Continue to drive at comfortable speeds, and feel good about doing it.

It’s just not worth it.