The RCMP last week released information for 2010, showing a further decline in the rate of fatalities and serious injuries on Newfoundland roads. The number of accidents involving fatalities and serious injuries (meaning injuries which resulted in admission as an inpatient to hospital) fell to 102 last year, although the number of fatalities was constant. The police said that two main factors explain the stubborn fatality rate: the unwillingness of some people to wear seat belts and, you guessed it, drinking and driving.
As if to emphasize the point, there was a horrible collision in St. John's last Wednesday in which two women, aged 22 and 24, were run down as pedestrians by a grey pickup truck. One of the women was dragged from Topsail Road just west of Forbes Street, to the Columbus Drive intersection. The driver of the pickup continued west on Topsail Road to the Hamlyn Road intersection, where he slammed into four other cars.
One Leo Jerome Power, 48, was arrested at the scene. He has been charged with various counts of impaired driving, and hit and run. None of the charges have yet been proved in court.
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the two injured women and their families. The name of the 22 year old woman who was dragged by the truck and left in critical condition was released today. She is a 22 year old native of St. Andrews, NB, Christine Wells. Her parents Clayton and Nancy Wells are in Newfoundland to be with their daughter during her crisis. Mr. Wells was interviewed on CBC Radio this morning and explained that his daughter Christine may be in hospital for months to come, but her 24 year old friend may be discharged from hospital today. They were both originally admitted to hospital in critical, but stable condition.
I suppose these tragic "statistics" on serious injury (thankfully, not fatality) will not show up in the RCMP accident statistics, because they happened under Royal Newfoundland Constabulary jurisdiction. But nothing could more pointedly highlight the argument of the RCMP, that drinking and driving remains a major - and unnecessary - source of serious accidental injury and death on our roadways.