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Buckle up to arrive alive

September, 2010

There are some places you just don’t go, like the bad part of town or a gated army base, or the highway entrance from de l’Eglise Ave. toward the Décarie in Verdun.

The merge lane is deathly short and truck traffic headed across the island stays in the right lane. Traffic slows in the merge, but you have to gun it once there’s a brief opening. It’s not safe and so I avoid it.

Except for that one time in early June, when I was late for a funeral in Châteauguay. Part of the lady’s family was with me, including her grandson, and I was worried about the time. The entrance is a long, blind curve and I took it slowly because, as I’d suspected, traffic was stopped in the short merge. I was almost at a standstill when I looked into my rearview mirror and locked eyes for the briefest of moments with the driver of the white pickup truck behind me.

Short merge lane slows traffic – every time. Photo: Google Streetview

He was going at least 50 kilometres an hour and I saw his face the moment he realized he should have been more cautious. A fraction of a second later, he was crushing my trunk and I was instinctively steering into the cement barrier, away from the fast-moving traffic in the right lane.

The entrance was soon filled with lights: ambulance, tow truck, police car, highway patrol. When there was a fender-bender behind us, despite the flashing displays, the police officer rolled his eyes and shook his head. His lack of surprise said it all.

We missed the funeral, but the most serious injury was whiplash that took a couple of weeks to heal.

Seatbelts. Without seatbelts, who knows how bad it might have been.

Seatbelts have been mandatory in new cars since the early 1970s. According to Transport Canada, 93 per cent of Canadians buckle up every time they get in the car. The remaining seven per cent of drivers and passengers account for nearly 40 per cent of fatalities in vehicle collisions.

Buckle up. I’m serious about this one.



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