Beyond the Headlines

"They are all so avoidable"

Posted: Oct 30, 2012 3:20 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 30, 2012 3:20 PM ET
(Mike Spearns)

On Monday I posted a column highlighting the disturbing increase in the number of deaths on Nova Scotia's road and highways. 71 people have died so far this year. That's the highest number in three years, and there are still two months to go.
This at a time when, with divided highways and safer vehicles, those numbers should be going down.
Today, I received an email from Mike Spearns, a well-known Halifax police officer, who is now retired. He has graciously agreed to let me reprint it here. He just wants everyone to know that these are his opinions, and not those of the police department.
I want to say thank you for the excellent piece on the fatalities on our Nova Scotia highways. I am a retired Halifax Regional Police officer, who spent most of my career in uniform, on the street .
My last post was as Traffic Supervisor with our Integrated Traffic Services Unit, and I can honestly say that those last five years were the best years of my career, but they weighed heavily on my shoulders.
Our team worked very closely with the media, trying to put a positive " Spin " on Traffic Safety, and our unit was tasked with trying to tame erratic drivers, and to try to drop the number of fatalities within HRM.
Every month, we would meet, as a unit, and with direction from our Police Management Team, we would set a Traffic Theme, and then work to achieve our goals.
It was difficult to watch the news, especially on a long weekend, and see young people killed in traffic related incidents... speeding, impairment, and pedestrians being mowed down like grass.
I am an avid two-wheel bike guy, motorcycles or bicycles.  I am the happiest when not housed in a cage. I have noticed, with increasing frequency, the number of drivers , who for whatever reason, have mo concept of common courtesy.
It appears what we need here in Nova Scotia is a mandatory course for those applying for their PRIVILEGE to drive: a course on Respect, Responsibility and basic Courtesy.
One only has to sit at a major intersection, and watch the drivers with their heads diverted to their laps, typing on a phone, or music player. Then watch as they wake up to the fact that they are holding up traffic behind them... watch their aggresive driving, as without glancing for pedestrians or vehicles, they spin their wheels to get caught up to the next red light. (Go to the Willow Tree intersection and watch the near misses.)
I could go on and on... but I feel your article was an eye opener. I recall a reporter - Dan Arsenault - with the Halifax Herald, who did a full two page piece on a year's list of those killed on Nova Scotia's highways. He did a Tombstone Data for each person , the date they were killed and where they were killed.

I made copies of that piece, and handed it to every driver that I stopped. I very seldom had to explain the reason for my stopping them.
I honestly believe that to stem the tide of death on our highways, we all have to buy into the fact that driving is a privilege, not a right.
Keep promoting Traffic Safety & who knows, the life you save may be your own.
Michael P Spearns. 
One final note. When I spoke with Mike to ask his permission to publish this email he told me about some of the tragic accidents he encountered during his long career. He says he remembers every fatal accident he attended.
"They all come back to me," says Spearns, "because they are all so avoidable."
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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