It’s not cynicism, it’s safety

I’d like to start off this op/ed piece with a bit of a disclaimer: I am not the kind of person who cynically ignores...

I’d like to start off this op/ed piece with a bit of a disclaimer: I am not the kind of person who cynically ignores the misfortune of others. I’m a believer in supporting the community and at points in my life I’ve volunteered up to four or five nights a week with the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, 4-H and other groups. With that said, let’s proceed.

Last November I, like I’m sure a lot of people, watched in shock as news reports detailed the death of Calgary Greenaway MLA Manmeet Bhullar along a Highway #2 roadside. On Nov. 23, during the first big snowstorm of the season, Bhullar apparently was driving on Highway #2, saw another motorist in distress in the ditch and decided to stop to help. A few moments later Bhullar was dead after an 18-wheeled truck struck him.

The incident sort of reminded me of an incident I had early in my journalism career, something that suggested how dangerous it can be to tempt fate on a highway. I was working in a village in B.C. called Nakusp, south of Revelstoke. I had gone to a head-on collision on a primary highway in winter, and the asphalt was coated in frozen rain so slippery even with high-grip hiking boots, I could barely move on it. As I approached an RCMP officer I knew at the crash scene, a pick-up came around the mountain curve and lost control, sliding sideways at the two of us standing on the road. Luckily, the truck regained control. The incident made an impression on me…you don’t know what’s going to come around that corner in bad weather.

A couple years later I was working at a newspaper in southern Alberta and was discussing a car crash with the RCMP commander Sgt. Pete Sopow. Pete gave me some really solid traffic advice. He advised that, when driving on a divided highway, if you’re in the fast or left-hand lane, don’t just sit beside other traffic, especially large commercial vehicles because, literally, anything can happen and it will happen at a really high speed. Pete told me about a crash he went to on a divided road where a car was driving beside an 18-wheeled truck, cruising in the same direction, when a tire on the truck exploded…right next to the head of someone in the car’s backseat.

Other police friends I’ve had also mentioned the fact that, during a car collision, bad storm or other highway problem, motorists stopping to help don’t really help, they just get in the way and create a further hazard to everyone. That’s where the “tow ban” philosophy comes from. There’s a point past which it becomes so dangerous for anyone on the road in those conditions, everyone just has to sit tight and wait out the storm.

Most of us aren’t mechanics or collision experts; when we approach someone on the highway who’s in trouble, what realistically can we do for them?

The vast majority of people have their own cell phones now, and everyone knows that 911 is the emergency number to call. Also, in a snowstorm such as Bhullar faced, if a car is high-centered in the ditch, nothing short of a tow-truck driven and operated by someone who knows what he or she is doing will be able to help. There was nothing Bhullar could have done for them, or at least, whatever help he could offer was not worth risking his own life for.

In a situation like that, there’s nothing wrong with passing by. But I have to admit I admired Bhullar’s courage and compassion to stop and help someone he didn’t even know.

Stu Salkeld is the new editor of the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

 

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Storm clouds gathered in Mulhurst, Alta., just before noon June 15, 2021. Photo/ Dan Moster.
Areas of County of Wetaskiwin remain under severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for areas of the County.

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday June 12th, 2021

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

Manluk Centre/ Impress
Manluk Centre re-opens to the public

Drop in and registered programs will be available; one-third facility capacity to be followed.

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read