A few short months ago a neighbour, in the rural sense of the word, sent in an obituary for his sister, who died a victim of alleged street racing. Her husband was also killed, leaving their young child to be raised by family.
Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, like many other family-type holidays, we do not doubt there was a somber nature to their gathering this year. People who pass away leave voids in the lives of survivors. Maybe a joke or a smile, maybe even an embrace coming and going will not happen during the holidays anymore. Survivors must go on with their lives.
The tragedy of those circumstances was compounded when the legal system recently left the family looking for justice. To most thinking people, street racing is as preventable a crime as drinking and driving. The recent initiatives by the police and lawmakers to curb reckless driving and speeding were little help to yet another set of families this past weekend, which saw mothers in each of two homes killed in a horrific crash.
The debate over whether we have a “legal” system or a “justice” system heats up during cases like these. For families who have lost loved ones, the hurt and sorrow have them crying for justice. Similarly, the family of the responsible parties face the arduous task of defending themselves, hoping to avoid a lengthy time in jail. Rightly or wrongly, the legal system then offers a chance at redemption to settle on a rational penalty for their actions. Justice, then, has two very different meanings – depending on which side of the proceeding one sits.
With respect to street racing, this is not the 1950s or the 1960s, where a back road or out-of-the-way place is chosen to hot rod. Today, with incredible population increases and more drivers than ever before, reckless drivers play their dangerous games in the midst of other drivers. Most of us have seen the folks who weave in and out of traffic and speed away – only to catch up with them at the next traffic light. Multiply those actions by two, and add dozens of drivers trying to get home, make appointments, get to work, or half asleep from driving too long, and it is a deadly recipe for disaster. The move by the OPP and other law enforcement agencies is the only way to curb an increasing problem. In reality, if everyone obeyed the rules of the road, such measures would not be necessary.
Accidents are one thing, but when the choice is made to increase the potential for having one at the expense of innocent bystanders, harsh penalties are needed. Driving remains a privilege and those caught endangering the lives of fellow drivers should lose that privilege.
This senseless loss of lives on Ontario roads needs to end.