We Are All Important to Someone
I did not survive breast cancer so that I could become a victim to road rage…
There are far too many incidents and too many shared stories about reckless drivers disobeying the rules of the road. The rules are basic. Adhere to the speed limit. Obey stop lights. Come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Check your blindspots. Remember that pedestrians have the right of way… but drivers in Toronto are growing increasingly intolerant to the basic rules of the road, and lives – especially those of pedestrians – are greatly endangered.
A few weeks ago, while crossing a busy intersection to pick my son up from his school, I quite literally avoided being run down by a reckless driver. I screamed, and leapt sideways into the intersection to narrowly avoid being hit by the car. The driver, it seemed, decided she wasn’t going to stop at the stop sign. Perhaps my scream startled her? I heard squealing brakes, and smelt burnt rubber… and a fellow pedestrian ran to my aid, escorting me off the road, her arm gently wrapped around my shoulders showing me solidarity and giving me strength. It all happened so quickly, and the driver took off before anyone (let alone me, who was too shaken) could record the make/model and license plate of the car. It was beige. That is all I can remember. That, and how horribly close the bumper came to my leg. Had I not leapt into the intersection, she would have hit me. I walked the remaining 300 metres to my son’s school in complete shock. I met my son, I scooped him up into my arms. I held him tight. I cried. What if he had been with me, crossing the street at that time?
I reported this incident to my city councillor because he and I have, in the past, discussed this particular intersection and the dangers it poses; and this morning we had an opportunity to talk briefly over the phone and further discuss what action can be done. At my request, he submitted an application for school crossing signs to be installed – which I am thrilled about and hope the application passes. He also discussed changes to the intersection that he is pushing for, but as with all municipalities, change takes time and it may be a year or two before implementation will occur. It won’t be immediate, but the knowledge that my city councillor is aware, listening, and working hard to resolve the concerns is reassuring. After talking with him I felt a little better. I felt a little more at ease.
Fast forward to lunchtime today, myself and another mom were almost run down at the exact intersection of concern – only moments after dropping our children off at school. We were, perhaps, three feet from the curb when I heard the engine gunning. A black SUV was charging at us. The woman behind the wheel clearly saw us crossing and clearly did not care. She accelerated. I yelled out, and violently swung my body around to avoid being hit; I lost my balance and fell hard onto the road. The driver continued to speed along, not stopping, not caring. There were others that shouted at the driver – to no avail – and others that called out to me, asking if I was okay. Shaken and sore, I picked myself up off the road. It was an intensely frightening experience; but it also enraged me. Have we truly become a society where human life means so little? Is a driver’s destination more important than a pedestrian’s life?
I am angry; and I am in great discomfort. I am angry because I cannot report the reckless driving [causing endangerment] to the police. No one got a license plate number, and there are no traffic cameras at this intersection. And I am in great discomfort because of the awkward way I fell onto the road, which has aggravated my post-surgery traumas. I have pins and needles shooting up and down my arms, a loss of sensation in my fingertips, as well as a searing pain across my scar. And I know it will be days before these uncomfortable aches subside. And the prevailing thought spinning in my mind is that I did not survive breast cancer so that I could become a victim to road rage. I did not survive breast cancer so that my son could be orphaned because of a reckless driver.
I want to take a moment to share a sobering fact. Last year, we lost 36 pedestrians to reckless drivers. This year, we are at a startling 28 with three months remaining in the year. I wish this was not so. I wish that these impatient, reckless, callous drivers could remember that we all have somewhere to be. We all have someone waiting for us. We are all important to someone.
We Are All Important to Someone. Published by Crystal Joy Hall