Editorial – You! Pay attention!

Jeff Burgar

It was big! It was green! But she says she didn’t see it!

Seriously, it was hard to miss. “It” being a John Deere farm tractor a bit more than twice as high as a man standing beside it. The female who hit it might have described it as being kind of ugly, even if tractor owners everywhere think they are beautiful. Was she even looking?

Last Monday, the tractor was driven by farmer Jeff Kromm on a paved secondary road outside of Calgary. He was mostly on the shoulder, putting along about 20 km per hour. The tractor was suddenly slammed in the rear by a big SUV. The force of the impact destroyed the rear of the huge tractor, and also the entire front end of the SUV.

It isn’t surprising the tractor driver was not hurt, sitting as he was far above the impact in the big machine. It’s a testament to how well vehicles are made these days the SUV driver was not killed, or even seriously injured. Although both, according to the tractor driver, might have whiplash injuries.

At the time of this writing, no charges are laid. But it appears from photos not only was the tractor driving on the shoulder, so was the SUV when the incident happened. Distracted driving perhaps? Somebody looking at their phone, totally engrossed in the happenings in their e-mail or texting online? Perhaps.

There’s many lessons here. The SUV driver is lucky she hit somebody sitting high up in a tractor. A person walking on the roadside, a bicycle rider, a motorcycle, all would have been mowed down and likely killed by the big truck. She might not have even noticed the slight bump. She might be later scraping a shoe or some blood off the truck front. Or perhaps wondering how that odd piece of chrome was stuck up in her grill.

This is the kind of incident that scares the bejeepers out of school bus drivers. Stopped on the highway, lights flashing, signs out, letting kids out. And drivers zooming by, totally oblivious to the bus and the children.

If you don’t see a four-metre high farm tractor, is a big yellow school bus going to get noticed? Really, what the heck does it take to get noticed by absolute, uncaring, totally selfish and stupid drivers?

Motorcycle operators all know to be extra careful when they see a vehicle coming in the opposite at an intersection. As often as not, they don’t even signal their left turn right in front of the bike.

“I didn’t see it” is a common excuse. Fittingly, careless, unwitting drivers usually kill or injure themselves. Even people taking high risk selfie pictures. They get what are called the Darwin Awards. Macabre humour, but basically, eliminating themselves from the gene pool. It’s nothing to wish on anybody.

But if the alternative is somebody playing on their phone running over helpless people or children well, it isn’t even a choice. Be careful out there.

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