Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cyclist killed by truck - no charges laid, as usual

Today cbc.ca reported that a 7-year-old girl was killed by a truck on St. Laurent near Cremazie Boulevard. She was cycling with her mother on the sidewalk, fell down and onto the street where she was run over by a truck and pronounced dead on the scene.

No charges will be laid against the truck driver because it was an accident. It is the 5th cyclist to be killed in traffic accidents in Montreal this year, among them other truck incidents.

This is a terrible thing to happen, and even more so as I feel it is preventable. Whenever I hear a truck coming behind me, I try to get out of the way as I know that those heavy vehicles can not stop fast. They pass by our apartment on Masson, which is a residential street, going 50km/h, sometimes up to 70km/h (my estimates). I have always been scared, because if something comes in their way, people, cyclists or cars, they will be crushed and have few chances of survival.

One bad experience I have is driving in a car on a countryside road, at the limit speed of 90km/h, slightly downhill. I heard a truck honking behind me and approaching at what seemed at least 30km/h faster. I had no choice than to hit the gas pedal to the bottom without considering anything else.

It seems that most drivers here do not care. Since they never had an accident, they believe that they are driving 'safely' and there is no motivation to change their habits. There is no enforcement by the police as far as I can see, or any sanctions if somebody gets killed. The driver was pronounced not guilty the same day.

When I was studying for my driving license in Austria, one very important thing I learned is that if you drive a vehicle you have always be able to stop, never to trust the other participants, especially children. I have never been scared of trucks there either. Apparently here in Montreal these rules do not apply - with deadly consequences.

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