November 18: World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims
November 18th this year falls on the third Sunday of November, a day that is taken in remembrance for road traffic victims. This is a less widely recognized day of remembrance that takes on the heavy topic we are all aware of but rarely discuss due to discomfort and uneasiness.
So let’s take some time to talk about it. This year, the WDR has adopted the theme of “Roads Have Stories.” As COM majors, we love to talk. We love to stay in touch, to always be socially available. More than anything, we love to tell stories. Do we think enough about all the stories that are happening around us though? Do we stay present, aware, and in the moment? What about the stories that have taken place on the roads we drive on every day?
In an ideal world when I’m driving to campus each day, I’d be aware and focused on nothing but the road. The reality is that I’m often thinking ahead about the class I’m worried about running late to, or the essay I know I have to work on in the library. Maybe my impatience is running high when I’m stuck behind a truck going 5 under the speed limit while my clock keeps mercilessly counting upward. I’m not thinking about the danger I could very swiftly be in. Today serves as a reminder to slow down and think about the countless other scenarios people have been in that don’t end with getting to class on time. Maybe their scenarios don’t even end with keeping their life, something we take for granted without ever realizing it.
“Road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent, traumatic events. Their impact is long-lasting, often permanent. Each year, millions of newly injured and bereaved people from every corner of the world are added to the countless millions who already suffer. The cumulative toll is truly tremendous… The grief and distress experienced by this huge number of people is all the greater because many of the victims are young, [and] because many of the crashes could and should have been prevented… This special Remembrance Day is therefore intended to respond to the great need for public recognition [of road crash victims for] their loss and suffering.”
Roads tell precautionary stories of the countless people that came before us. Despite improvement, the US still holds the highest car crash death rate out of any other country. The reality that we live in a town trademarked as a “college town” and “retirement town” only exponentially increases these risks. What is the best way to honor and respect the people who have fallen victim to car accidents? The answer is staying safe and promoting safety so that we don’t contribute to the suffering and instead work to decrease it.
What are some ways we can do this?
- Use a seat belt in every seat, on every trip
- Make sure children are always properly buckled into the back seat or booster seat
- Choose NOT to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Obey the speed limits, cut out more time to make it to class
- Drive WITHOUT distractions like texting or calling
The concept is very familiar, we’ve all been told to never text and drive. We’ve been told to keep our eyes on the road, be aware of weather dangers, watch the people around us. Where do we catch ourselves pushing the limits? We love to stay in contact no matter how short the drive can be, but unless we want to let the road dictate our story, our communication tendencies need to take the back seat to safety, for the betterment of everyone.
– Jordan McFaul