In a span of a few days, two Filipinas died from two separated ill-fated accidents in Vancouver and in Surrey. Filipina caregiver Lucia Velasco, who was on her way home from work, died from injuries brought forth by two separate vehicles crashing into her on the corner of 41st and Kerr. Six days after, Filipina-Canadian Josie Belcourt was run over by an unidentified first vehicle that fled the scene of the accident on King George Blvd., while a second vehicle who also ran over her, stayed and waited for help. Both incidents, freak accidents for lack of a better term, ended the life of two women in two seemingly avoidable accidents. The RCMP and ICBC designated March as a month-long crackdown on distracted driving. Through this endeavour, they aim to find out the reasons behind ill-fated car crashes and how they can further improve law enforcement on such incidents.
While law enforcement seems to be a brilliant idea, one thing is certain – driver education is necessary and pertinent to ensure that accidents like Velasco’s and Belcourt’s do not happen, ever again. The law and ICBC has turned its back and have given slaps on the wrists to erring drivers, fining them $167 if caught, and one thinks if that amount is enough to cover the devastation of death if their bad behaviour causes an accident. While more than one ticket a year will cost $600, one still thinks that that’s not enough for a lost life. Although there is harsher penalty for manslaughter when a life is lost in an accident, what happens to those who escape judgment simply because there were no witnesses, like the dark grey Honda CRV who left Belcourt’s mangled body on the road?
Here’s a suggestion. Instead of a $167 ticket for distracted driving, why not a suspension from driving a vehicle for a year or two, coupled with taking driving lessons paid directly to ICBC, then another driving test to pass and retrieve their license? On top of that, instead of the regular $50 fee for the new card, why not make it $500? And let’s not stop there. Distracted driving should include dogs on the lap, smoking, and eating a full course meal while adjusting the volume of the boom box blaring in the backseat. Distracted driving is what it is – anything that takes your eyes, ears and nose on the road. The harder it is for a person to get their rights back as a driver on road after an error in judgement, like using a cell phone while driving when it is clearly against the law, will make anyone remember to follow the rules, and avoid the unnecessary death of innocent pedestrians. This will send a message to distracted drivers that the law is the law, and it is placed and enforced to ensure that all citizens are safe inside and outside their homes.