Vehicle crashes are not inevitable accidents that we can’t do anything about.
This is the message lawyer Paul Hergott was sending out to the crowd and to anyone on the road during the seventh-annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims in Kelowna.
Back in 2005, the UN General Assembly adopted the World Day as ‘the appropriate acknowledgement for victims of road traffic crashes and their families’.
Hergott has since recognized the day in Kelowna to remember those killed or seriously injured on Canadian roads.
“All we need to do to reduce crashes is to recognize that if we focus our direct attention on the road ahead of us, we are not going to crash,” said Hergott.
A man who believes crashes are anything but inevitable, but certainly avoidable, is Hidedki Mimura who lost his daughter to a collision on the Coquihalla in April of 2017.
Melissa Mimura was an international student who was about to graduate from university when she was hit by a truck while exiting her broke-down vehicle on Highway 5.
Now, for the last two years her father has traveled to Canada, from Japan, for just one day to be apart of this event.
“It’s too late for us but we don’t want to waste Melissa’s painful experience. So, we want to prevent anymore tragedies,” he said. “You need to reduce the speed limit to below 50 km/hr (on the Coquihalla) whatever the speed is that you can control your vehicle because all the vehicles are responsible (for driving) according to the weather.”
Ironically, Mimura once helped grieving families in Japan who lost loved ones to car crashes, when Melissa was a child. Years later the Mimuras are now one of these bereaved families, which is why Mirmura has brought Hergott’s One Crash Too Many platform to Japan.
“I wanted to prevent tragedy (back then) and we succeeded in changing the Japanese traffic laws and reduced the number of deaths in half,” he explained. “If the British Columbia government changed the traffic laws to be more strict it is possible to reduce crashes.”
And, according to Hergott, there is also another way to reduce road crashes.
One, is to leave the phone alone including hands-free cellphone use, as Hergott believes it contributes to driver inattention.
The other is to ensure driver’s brains are focused on the road at all times.
“The mechanism that I came up with is called doing the ten-and-two and its essentially putting your hands on the steering wheel and when your mind starts to wander, that isn’t very comfortable, and your hand will move to your lap or somewhere else and that triggers you’re not paying attention.
Doing the ten-and-two or the nine-and-three is a mechanism everyone can use to keep your brain focused,” explained Hergott.
Police, paramedics and firefighters were in attendance at the vigil held in the Orchard Park Mall parking lot, on Wednesday evening.