by Shannon Lough
Nineteen commercial airline crashes killing all 100 persons aboard would barely equal the number of deaths on Canadian roads in 2013.
The analogy is shocking and severe and the very reason why Prince Rupert’s Brian Denton has made it his mission to publish the book Staying Safe on Our Roads to illustrate just how “small a margin for error” there is when it comes to road safety.
When Denton was 16, he rolled his car and was thrown from his vehicle. He escaped with his life but suffered serious injuries.
Since that life-altering accident, Denton has remained collision-free.
Knowing the realities of how easy it is to be involved in a collision, Denton doesn’t beat around the bush in his book.
If you speed that margin of error shrinks, and he offers concrete examples to drive the message home.
The impact of a collision on the body while driving 30 km/h equals a fall of 3.5 metres.
The impact while driving 120 km/h equals falling from 56.9 metres.
“Unless we properly understand the hazards that exist, it is difficult to impossible to understand how to reduce our risks of being involved in a traffic collision,” Denton said.
The Prince Rupert resident is a former mechanical engineer and has spent eight years researching and writing his book during his retirement.
He said he initially wrote the book for the youth and for his own children and grandchildren but the scope of his message has expanded as he dug deeper and discovered more inherent problems in how roads are designed and how drivers use them.
“Road safety should be a fundamental program in the school curriculum,” he said.
“You’re not going to pick up all that you need in a driving school.”
The book investigates problems in Canada and the U.S. and then highlights some of the road safety strategies in New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands.
For example, in Chapter 9 he examines Sweden’s Vision Zero approach that “no loss of life is acceptable.”
Roads, streets and vehicles are adapted to preemptively deal with mistakes that people make when using the road.
This strategy included a goal by policymakers to reduce deaths and injuries by a certain date.
Denton said we can learn a lot from these countries and their attitudes toward road safety.
“One of the beauties of this book is that it’s written on the basis of what we as an individual can do to reduce our chances of getting involved in a collision,” he said.
Canada won’t be able to change its road system overnight and its national policy may take years to implement.
Rather than wait for the changes to be made this book offers insight on how driver’s can improve their own habits for their own safety and for others who use the road.
To publish the book, Denton contacted more than 250 publishers and literary agencies and requested support from 13 Canadian safety organizations over a two year period, including the Canadian Safety Council Chair and Board, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the CEO of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Canada.
He only received a couple of responses and no support — so he found another avenue to publish his work.
“Staying Safe On Our Roads: The Small Margin for Error” is available at Misty River Books and through Amazon.
Denton also has a web page, http://briandenton.ca.
Shannon Lough is a reporter with The Northern View which is located in Prince Rupert, B.C.