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EDITORIAL: Sit in your car and think about highway safety

Every choice in life has some kind of risk attached.

This covers – but is not limited to – eating hot dogs (choking), taking a shower (slips), and walking down the stairs (heels and banana peels).

So it is when a person gets behind the wheel, and hits the highway.

Some thoroughfares in B.C. are riskier than others. Last month, the Trans Canada between Revelstoke and Golden was named one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It owned 38 fatal crashes between 2003 and 2014.

In the Okanagan-Similkameen, the deadliest road is Highway 3, the Hope-Princeton, with 24 fatals during the same time period.

That said, there have been significant and expensive improvements made to that stretch of pavement in recent years, and the accident rate has declined.

The point is though, driving always incurs some risk. Also, timing accelerates risk.

According to ICBC, every B.C. Day long weekend, an average of three people are killed and 600 people are injured in 2,100 crashes throughout the province.

That’s what everyone was facing last Friday as holiday-makers took to the roads to numerous, relaxing destinations.

Two thousand and one hundred crashes to be expected, and one of them occurred late-morning on Highway 3, just outside of Princeton town limits.

The road was open to alternating traffic for several hours, and then closed completely for at least four hours while police conducted a full investigation.

Traffic backed up for kilometres. It was hot. Various organizations went car-to-car, handing out water to those who might have been unprepared for such a wait.

Being on scene, and then watching speculation boil over on Facebook, could nearly be described as surreal.

Contrary to persistent online rumours regarding multiple fatalities, no one was killed. It was, however, a serious two-vehicle accident.

One driver, stuck in the line-up, snapped a picture of one car involved, and shared it to a public Facebook group with more than 5,000 followers.

The post was swiftly removed by an administrator.

Professional journalists take no risks when it comes to publishing photos from a scene that could be identifying. We wait for an ‘all-clear’ from police. No one should learn a loved one has been in an accident when they are just popping onto social media to look at memes.

Then came the comments on various local groups about how unfair it was, being stuck in traffic. Several complained about the possibility of heat stroke. There was no shade. What’s taking so long? This is unacceptable. I feel sorry for those people BUT…

Unacceptable better describes the harassment of first responders, many of whom are volunteers and all of whom were also having a crappy afternoon.

The milk of human kindness? It is as dry as a B.C. forest this August, it appears.

Driving incurs risk, which ought to be calculated and includes the chance of being held up, and unable to get to your cabin before suppertime on a long weekend.

Other risks are injury and death. Refer to ICBC numbers above.

If you sit in your car long enough and think about it, the vast majority of people on the Hope-Princeton last Friday can count their blessings.

Andrea DeMeer is the editor of the Similkameen Spotlight in Princeton.