OUR VIEW: Pay attention when behind the wheel

We say: Many accidents in the province could be avoided

Anyone who has driven on B.C. roads for any length of time has been there — a vehicle races past you at speeds well above the posted limit and then immediately cuts you off with a dangerous lane change.

Then there are the drivers who’ll race through a stale yellow light, rather than wait two minutes for the next green, or the ones who jump the green to get in a left turn before oncoming traffic has a chance to move.

There is no shortage of aggressive drivers on our roads. As much as we all know it’s illegal and incredibly dangerous, it’s behaviour we’ve all come to expect and, to some degree, accept.

We might sigh, and ease our foot off the accelerator a little bit, just to give the aggressor a chance to move a bit farther along and minimize our own risk of getting caught up in any carnage they might generate.

But it’s so common, it barely raises an eyebrow.

What is still a little surprising, though, (at least it should be) is the percentage of vehicles that go blasting by with a green ’N’ affixed to the back window or bumper.

The ’N’ stands, of course, for new (the sticker’s colour is symbolic in its own right). That’s new as in, inexperienced, unpractised, unskilled, amateur.

Despite that lack of experience, there’s a blind confidence and sense of indestructibility that seems to come with being young. Granted, not every new driver is a young driver, but it’s a fair assumption that the vast majority aren’t too far removed from their 16th birthday.

Regardless, on roads as busy as the ones British Columbians drive every day —  roads that handle everything from cyclists to semis — there is a whole lot going on for even the most experienced driver to take in.

It’s too soon to know what led to the fatal Oct. 7 crash in Surrey that killed a young man as he sat waiting for a bus.

We do know the vehicle left the road, jumped the curb and pinned the 22-year-old to the bus bench.

And we know the vehicle had a green ’N’ in its back window. Its driver, just 17.

Regardless of whether the cause  was speed, distraction, road conditions, vehicle malfunction or some combination — unless it was a medical emergency, we’re also pretty certain that it could have been avoided.

Whether it’s slowing down, paying closer attention or ensuring a vehicle is properly maintained, we all have a responsibility to ensure that our actions don’t put others in harm’s way.

Almost immediately after the Surrey crash, the victim’s family spoke publicly, urging all drivers — not just new ones — to slow down just a little and to pay closer attention to everything that is going on around them.

Under the circumstances, it’s not a lot to ask.

– Black Press