By Ben Rowe
Every day in Ontario, there are more than 600 collisions, a large majority which are the direct result of unsafe or aggressive driving.
In order to make the streets safer, Sudbury is participating in the Road Safety Challenge 2002, until May 12. It is the third time the city is involved in the challenge.
The awareness week is being staged by a local group of community organizations including the City of Greater Sudbury, Action Sudbury, Sears, the Health Unit, the Ministry of Transportation and the Greater Sudbury Police department.
The week-long event includes clinics on seat-belts, child car seats, safe biking and RIDE programs, as well as monitoring of school buses to ensure no one disobeys the flashing signals.
The focus of this year?s event was decided based on ?pressing issues in our community,? said Cheryl MacCaw, the chair of the Sudbury Road Safety Challenge Committee.
?These topics were chosen because of our local statistics,? which are generally worse than the provincial level, MacCaw said.
She said she felt the bad driving habits that result in accidents can be halted through learning.
?Notice I call them accidents: most of these are preventable injuries and deaths. We believe, through education and having people change bad habits, we can reduce the risks on our roads.?
Deputy mayor Doug Craig, who is a board member at the Sudbury District Health Unit, said motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death and injury in the community.
?What?s disturbing to me when I read the stats was that every day, each day, in the province of Ontario, there are over 600 accidents; each day in the province of Ontario there are 153 citizens injured through accidents,? he said.
Craig pointed out that every 10 hours an Ontario resident dies as a result of a vehicle-related accident in Ontario, quoting from the Ontario Road Safety Annual Report, compiled by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.
A 12-hour marathon child car seat clinic will be staged today at the CAA office on Regent Street.
The RIDE program will be out from Thursday to Saturday. Saturday also features a bike rodeo at the Canadian Tire in Chelmsford.
All week, a school bus watch is in effect, to see who doesn?t stop for the flashing bus lights.
The Road Safety Challenge, while geared primarily to increase public awareness and education, is also a contest among Ontario municipalities to win awards granted by the Ministry of Transportation.
Last year, with impaired driving as the focus, Sudbury won a $500 award from the MTO for its Impaired Driving Program.
Craig called the local statistics on drunk driving ?discouraging.?
?We don?t seem to be creating the awareness that we need to in that area? said Craig.
While the number of fatal collisions dropped from nine in 1998 to five in 2000, the percentage of fatalities related to alcohol has almost doubled, from 43 per cent in 1999 to 80 per cent in 2000.