Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Jeez, Steve, when're you going to get a car?"

(Yes, this is a rant. The voice recognition software seems to work better when I express some vehemence.)

I've lost count of how many times I've heard that question. Very few people seem to believe me when I say it's safer not to be in a car, from both anecdotal and statistical bases.

* I've been in two major accidents requiring medical treatment, neither of which have involved major trauma. Since I've been at home the last couple of months, I've been reading the local paper. For every day I've read the obituaries (which is admittedly most, but not all days) someone has been listed as dying in an automobile accident. A quick search of the Chronicle Herald for this week, to give a sample:

"Memorial service today for mother, 3 children

Natalie Margaret Crawford loved to play the violin to her three children. They were her life.

Ms. Crawford, 27, her children, Sara Marie Barnes, 7, Kyle Angus Kaiser, 5, and Justin Fredrick Boutilier, 3, were killed in a car crash June 3 in Alberta."

"Retired music teacher has condition upgraded

Vesta Mosher, a retired New Glasgow music teacher seriously hurt in a car crash last week, has had her condition upgraded from critical to serious, a hospital spokesperson said Tuesday.

Last Wednesday, Ms. Mosher, 79, was thrown from her car in a single-vehicle accident near Shubenacadie. She was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre with serious head trauma after the crash."

"BRIDGEWATER — Fenton Thompson was convicted Monday of failing to stop after hitting a man in a crosswalk with his car, even though his videotaped confession was thrown out.

The confession was ruled inadmissible because police failed to tell him he had the right to apply for legal aid.

The 19-year-old Blockhouse man told police and the judge that he was behind the wheel when Matthew Berry was hit last Oct. 14.

But he pleaded not guilty and went ahead with his trial, as well as a separate hearing to determine whether his statement to police was voluntary.

At the hearing, Mr. Thompson said he freely confessed. He said the arresting officer read him his rights, told him he could call his own lawyer or a legal aid lawyer, and that no one pressured him into saying anything. "I said I was the driver," he said.

He also said on the tape he was guilty, but added in court: "When I said on the video I was guilty I mean guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident."

Mr. Thompson said in his confession he knew he had hit something but didn’t know what. He was arrested after returning to the accident scene a couple of hours later and a police officer saw his father looking in the grass to see if he could find what his son had hit."

"Accident victim worries about cap on insurance
Industry says rates went down

STEWIACKE — Shirley MacPhee has paid both physically and financially every day since the vehicle she was riding in two years ago was hit at an intersection in nearby Brookfield.

"It’s been a long, hard time for us," Ms. MacPhee, 68, said in an interview at her Stewiacke home.

"It just doesn’t seem to get any better."

Her husband Percy, 69, pulled out a folder full of receipts, letters and business cards.

"It’s this cap the Province of Nova Scotia has put on for the insurance industry that worries me. People like us keep paying and the insurance companies get off pretty well scot-free," Mr. MacPhee said.

The couple said since Ms. MacPhee’s back injury, they have shelled out more than $3,000 in medical expenses. So far, the insurance company has paid them $500."

"Victims of N.L. accident mourned
Wet, foggy road conditions blamed for crash

Two Nova Scotia families are in mourning after a van crash killed two local men who were working in Newfoundland.

Local rapper Shane Jackson, 27, of Lower Sackville and Richard Slauenwhite, 28, who moved to Dartmouth from Bridgewater about a year ago, died Tuesday night when the van they were passengers in left a highway near Terrenceville, N.L."

"Unlicensed driver loses wife in fatal crash


Wayne Hubley only meant to pick up his common-law wife from work last Friday. He never imagined it would be their last day together.

And now Mr. Hubley, whom police charged Wednesday with driving without a licence, is left to reflect on his mistake in a crash that cost Diann Marie Weeks her life."

"Charges expected after pickup rams into house

PICTOU (CP) — It was a typical night in front of the television for Donald Gendron — until a pickup truck slammed into his house.

“It was so loud that the neighbours up on the next street and down below heard the crash,” says Gendron."

This one is deserving of a muppet award:

"Driver who slammed into boulders sues HRM


A Halifax woman who drove her car into a row of boulders on a municipal street is claiming the city did not provide adequate signage to warn motorists that the road comes to an end.

Fatina Elkurdi filed a lawsuit against Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Monday.

According to court documents, it was foggy on June 10, 2006, the night Ms. Elkurdi was driving her 1997 Hyundai Accent on Prospect Road near Peggys Cove.

It was just before 11 p.m. when she pulled into a gas station for a drink. When she left, the documents said, she turned right onto Evergreen Place, thinking it was Prospect Road.

Ms. Elkurdi then drove a ways on Evergreen at the posted speed limit of 50 kilometres an hour until she spotted a row of boulders blocking her path."

"Car accident sends man to hospital


A 45-year-old man ended up in hospital after he lost control of his car and slammed into a parked vehicle in Spryfield on Monday evening.

The man was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre after his Chrysler Intrepid hit the parked vehicle on Williams Lake Road and slid onto private property at about 8:15 p.m."

"Woman killed in crash
Parking lot entrance was also scene of fatal accident in March

By DAN ARSENAULT Staff Reporter

A woman died in a car crash Friday afternoon near the same Dartmouth parking lot where a man died following a similar midday collision in late March.

At 12:39 p.m., the 45-year-old victim was a passenger in a Chevrolet Corsica that tried to enter the lot at Ben’s Bakery and Dave’s Farm Market at 322 Main St., according to police."

"Funeral held for beloved young mom killed in crash

By DAVENE JEFFREY Staff Reporter

Raella Haines was remembered Thursday as a kind, gentle young mother with a winning personality who knew how to pick out a killer pair of shoes.

“She loved people. People loved to be around her,” Pastor Glen Lucas said as he tried to comfort nearly 350 mourners during the afternoon funeral service at the Atlantic Funeral Home in Dartmouth."

"Friends pour out their grief

By BEVERLEY WARE South Shore Bureau

BRIDGEWATER — It was the wee hours of the morning in January and Mindy Baker’s car broke down on Highway 10 just outside Bridgewater. The nearby Irving was open, so she went in for help.

Tanya Robar was inside laughing away with her co-workers. She had just spilled gasoline on a cut on her hand and was joking about the hazards to which she was now exposed. She laughed and cracked jokes and Mindy Baker joined in.

"She seemed like such a wonderful person, hell-bent on making people smile and laugh, and I could tell that in just the few hours that I spent there," wrote Ms. Baker on Facebook on a site friends and relatives set up as a memorial to Ms. Robar, one of the five people killed in an horrific crash Sunday afternoon at Exit 11 on Highway 103."

Now, this isn't Toronto, but for the size of Halifax that seems pretty high.

* I know lots of people who have been injured in auto accidents; I also knew several who died in auto accidents. I know several people who've been injured while biking, but I don't personally know anyone killed while biking (although I've heard of people like Ken Kifer).

* Statistically, it's safer. The canonical example is the Failure Analysis Associates study:

Fatalities per million hours
Skydiving = 128.71
General aviation = 15.58
On-road motorcycling = 8.80
Scuba diving = 1.98
Living (all causes of death) = 1.53
Swimming = 1.07
Snowmobiling = 0.88
Passenger cars = 0.47
Water skiing = 0.28
Bicycling = 0.26
Flying (domestic airlines) = 0.15
Hunting = 0.08
Cosmic radiation from transcontinental flights = 0.035
Home living (active) = 0.027
Traveling in a school bus = 0.022
Compiled by Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. (Design News, 10/4/93)

So statistically, driving (or simply being inside) a car is almost twice as likely as cycling to end in death.

* Another comment is that I would be safer with a steel cage around me. My personal opinion is that cars are too safe, so people tend to take risks they wouldn't otherwise. My solution would be to ban airbags and replace them with a metal spike in order to concentrate the driver's mind. I doubt this would be accepted, though.

The flip side of having a steel cage for protection is the massive increase in inertia, increasing the stopping distance dramatically. The effect of this is that if a car suddenly pulls out in front, a big heavy vehicle has less chance of stopping in time and avoiding an accident than a small light vehicle (ie, bicycle). Naturally, most people want to buy an SUV because it's "safer" (presumably so long as it doesn't roll over, anyway).

* Anecdotally, after seeing how people drive at high speeds on the highway for the past few weeks while I've been going to medical appointments, I really don't want to be out there. Just this morning we had a car approximately 3 meters from our rear bumper (or at least, so close to us I couldn't see his rear bumper). At the time we were traveling at 110km/hr overtaking a large tractor trailer; one gust of wind blasting through the slipstream off the truck would have been enough to slow us enough to hit the car behind, causing an accident.

Maybe when gas hits $5/liter it will have an effect. $1/liter certainly didn't seem to make any difference...

I'm starting to heal up pretty well. I've started physio, and as part of it I've been having Laser therapy. It sounds like the biggest crock of crystal healing ley line garbage, and I wasn't expecting anything much out of it, but rather surprisingly it's done the trick - after not being able to do anything with my right arm last week due to the pain of moving it, I can now get dressed without pain, tie shoelaces (albeit very carefully) and scratch my left shoulder, so I'm quite a ways ahead. The physio is helping, but I think it's going to take a while; the muscles in my right arm have wasted away so much I can't even lift my right arm without help from my left. I can at least straighten the arm out, after being stuck in one position for so long it was great to finally straighten it out - after I'd got over the pain of all the muscles tearing...

Back in to have an X-Ray and see the surgeon tomorrow, with any luck I should have some good news...


Blogger Dougii said...


Glad to hear you are on the mend. I am starting to share your car phobia. When driving, I see in my driving, and the drivers around me inattention and too much comfort.

On the other hand, I don't worry about it. For the last four months I have been riding my bike every day (ok, I had to take the car twice, yes had to. 86 lb HVAC units don't fit on the bike rack) and the benefits have been extreme.

In the last two days I have had to wear a suit. I put on two suits that used to fit and I look like a ten year old wearing daddies jacket. My sleep and waking hours are properly spent sleeping soundly or full of energy to meet the demands of the day.

I have been reading the obits this week and see the carnage on the roads. It seems unreal in a whole new way since I started riding my bike. Getting in car and travelling the speed limit takes on whole new meaning. You don't realize how fast 50 km/h really is until you do it down Kearney Lake Road (and take the lane)

I was thinking that instead of spikes, cars should be made like go-carts. Light, close to the ground with only a tarp for when it rains or snows.

Rant on man.

Cars R Coffins


Take the lane

Ride it like you stole it!

Speaking of taking the lane.I have been moving into the lane more often lately. My downtown commute takes me down Barrington. I take the lane. A Taxi decided to pass me , I then caught up to him and shouted through the windows his Casino taxi number and said I was going to report him. Cabbies are fucking idiots.

Cycling muppets were the gang of four adults I saw riding up the sidewalk on Cornwallis street and nearly taking out a pedestrian.


Thursday, June 14, 2007 12:48:00 pm  
Blogger Scoutie said...

Damn. . . I gots to get me a school bus!

Thursday, June 14, 2007 1:33:00 pm  
Blogger steve said...

Dougii, I thought I was on the mend until this morning. I really don't know what I can do now. Irritatingly enough I had an ultra 10 land on my doorstep last night and I was looking forward to getting that up and running. Since I can't lift the thing to take the case off, all I can do now is stare at it longingly.

Cycling definitely does the trick for burning fat. Something else that people don't seem to get is that I'd rather have a good life with a risk of it getting cut short, than a long life plagued with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, boredom, etc. One comment I got was, "but what are you going to do when you get to 80 or so? Surely you'll have to get a car for then!"; my comment that I wouldn't trust myself driving a car over the age of 70 or so anyway didn't go down too well.

And yes, it's only when I stepped outside the car/oil culture that I realised just how screwed it was. I didn't particularly want to start driving in the UK, I think I was 20 or 21 before I got my license there, and it was only to keep my parents quiet. Coming over to Canada I've managed to do without a license, using buses up until a few years ago when one summer I decided I'd had enough of experiencing other peoples' poor choices in hygiene or perfume. Seeing one person now sat in a minivan or SUV at traffic lights that takes up the space of 8 or 10 cyclists strikes me as incredibly selfish, but because cars are so ingrained into modern culture, it seems to be a complete blind spot to almost everyone else around me.

Casino Taxi won't do anything, I've complained before. They're very concerned right up to the point where they hear you were on a bike, then they just blow you off. I refused to use Casino Taxis as a result as I just don't trust their drivers' competency levels; Yellow Cab are who I usually call for now.

Scout, come to Nova Scotia; old school buses are all over the place. People use them for camping out in in their back yards (seriously, I'm not making this up!)

Thursday, June 14, 2007 2:03:00 pm  
Blogger Dougii said...

Re: Busses.

My wife has been invited to a 'Bus' party this summer. Its an old school bus parked out in the middle of no-where.

Thursday, June 14, 2007 4:15:00 pm  
Blogger steve said...

Dougii, I tell people about stuff like that that happens in Nova Scotia and they think I'm making it up.

Milk in plastic bags is another one that's good for confusion...

Thursday, June 14, 2007 9:01:00 pm  
Blogger Scoutie said...

Wait just a minute! Explain this milk in bags thing to me... Also, I'd love to go to Nova Scotia one day. Hopefully, when I get around to it, the doctors will finally let you out to ride your bike!

Friday, June 15, 2007 2:03:00 am  
Blogger Dawna said...

After reading this post, I had to do a little research.

You're more likely to die in a rural accident than an urban one in Nova Scotia (according to 2005 statistics), and even on a clear day it seems.

I guess the trick is to drive like you can't be seen by the other drivers. That's what a firefighter told me when we were talking about riding a motorcycle and the risks involved. (He was a motorcycle rider himself.)

Hope your shoulder heals sooner!!

Friday, June 15, 2007 9:37:00 am  
Blogger steve said...

Scout, here is a pictorial guide to using milk in bags. I suppose it's marginally environmentally friendlier than jugs of milk as there's less plastic used, but it may be a wash when it comes to cartons. I vaguely recall hearing something about them being introduced because people were using plastic milk jugs to store gasoline and the like in. Of course, it's quite feasible to buy jugs and cartons of milk, so I think it's more of a tradition now.

Dawna, those are definitely interesting documents, thanks for that! The statistics I quoted were giving deaths per hour per activity rather than absolute deaths per activity; I suspect if that were factored in then the rural deaths would appear a lot lower - after all, you need to travel further for longer in the countryside to find someone to hit than you do in town. It seems like deaths per hour travelled is the only statistic missing - although that's a tricky one to quantify.

I also don't trust drivers, and assume that they're genuinely out to get me. 99.999% of the time so far, I've been successful, but it's the 0.001% that'll get me for good! In the accident I just had I didn't have time to slow down enough to get behind the guy as the traffic ahead was slowing down as well, which caused an accordion effect, otherwise I'd have just been posting about yet another muppet of the day...

Friday, June 15, 2007 10:15:00 am  
Blogger chelle said...

car accidents...huh!! sounds threatening to everyone...i guess one major contributory factors that causes automobile accidents was lack of car cares or "maintenance" the word goes, big percentage causes of accidents was on automobiles..perhaps all i can say is be responsible on having a brother had minor accidents due to lack of responsibility then fine, after all he realized how important is the maintenance.he keeps on inspecting its car parts especially when it has troubles..last week he had done
vw transmission mount installation..he is now a car maintenance addict! good thing to have these info!

Saturday, July 28, 2007 1:18:00 am  

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