Prevent the preventable

By Chris Beauchamp

As any decent workplace safety program will reinforce, there is never a single cause behind an accident. Rather, there are multiple oversights and mistakes behind every tragedy, numerous miscalculations that lead­ to the moment when things go terribly wrong.

A six-year-old girl lost her life this week. The daughter of a University of Calgary student, she was struck by a vehicle just north of campus, on the same stretch of road that claimed the lives of two U of C students–Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson–just over three years ago.

The accidents were frustratingly similar, their causes equally preventable in hindsight. In both cases, the pedestrians were trusting that oncoming traffic was aware of them and would stop. Both involved inattentive drivers, with reports that this week’s accident involved a young driver reaching for a cell phone or CD case instead of focusing on what was in front of her.

City planning is at fault too. The traffic routinely speeding down 32 Ave., a busy link between Brentwood and Market Mall, is a glaring risk to the hundreds of people who cross it daily to get to campus. Reduced speed limits, increased police enforcement and the installation of more crosswalks (one was added after Brian and Joah were killed) would help to make this street safer. Perhaps the best solution would be to fence off the north border of campus entirely and construct one or two pedestrian overpasses.

The responsibility for accidents like this doesn’t rest on any one individual, though it will probably be a long time before the mother of this little girl and the 18-year-old driver of the car are able to see that.

Accidents will always be a part of life, but ignoring the causes and failing to seek obvious solutions is inexcusable. It is commendable that U of C administration has announced their intention to work with the City to address these issues. It’s time some real infrastructure changes are made so that this particular stretch of road doesn’t claim any more lives.


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