In the middle of November each year is Road Peace Week, when we are encouraged to remember those whose lives have been affected by Road Traffic Collisions
Note the word collisions rather than the word accident. Sadly, many collisions that happen are not accidents, and with thought and care, could have been avoided.
So many people are affected when a serious collision occurs: not only the passengers, but their respective families, witnesses at the scene, and all the emergency services who have to attend.
These collisions can be life changing and sadly result in the loss of life. Only this week, five young people lost their lives in a serious collision in Leeds, and sadly, too many lives are lost both nationally and here in Calderdale every year.
I was delighted to be able to attend and support the event, reported in the Courier, organised for Sixth Formers at the Victoria Theatre, about the effects of road traffic collisions, organised by the Emergency Services in Calderdale.
Here we heard some moving stories from the Police, Fire Service, and Paramedics, about some of the collisions they have been called too, and the lasting effect those have had on their own lives, and others.
Still too many people think they can drink and drive, use their phone whilst driving, and while taking drugs. It’s a pitiful tale of sheer selfishness and without regard for the safety of others.
Here in Calderdale there has been a campaign to ask drivers to slow down to 20 mile per hour in residential and built up areas.
Being hit by a car at 20 mph rather than 30 mph dramatically reduces the impact on a human being, and so far, all the statistics support the move, with the number of deaths and injury continuing to decline.
I have to be honest, and say this often drives me nuts and frustrated, as my car hates traveling at that speed, and one can only do it in third gear. I’m always tearing around from A to B, and sometimes I get impatient.
It would be good to talk with car manufacturers about creating a way in which drivers could be encouraged to drive more slowly – maybe we need smaller engines and not big ones to slow us down and protect the environment?
Each year The Minster hosts the Oakleaf Service, as part of Road Peace Week. All the Emergency services attend, with some families who have been affected by a road traffic collision. In the service, they lay oak leaves on the High Altar, remembering individuals who have both died and been affected.
I’ll never forget my very first Funeral in the Minster of a 19 year old lad who lost control of his car in West Vale, due to driving at high speed. There have been others over the last ten years, and often its young people who end up dead or with life changing injuries.
As Christmas approaches, some families will be without people they love, because of a road traffic collision. As we enjoy Christmas parties and festivities, let us make sure that we take our driving seriously, and do our best to keep the roads safe for all its users.