Intersection Safety Month starts with story of tragedy

July 15 is a day Yvonne and Steven Wilson wish had never happened.

July 15 is a day Yvonne and Steven Wilson wish had never happened.

The Three Hills couple’s 18-year-old son, Jordan, was tragically killed six months ago while doing maintenance work on Hwy 21 near Beiseker.

It’s something that didn’t need to happen, said Yvonne, but it did because someone made a bad decision.

A semi failed to stop at a stop sign and hit an oncoming car, sending both vehicles into Jordan and his 19- year-old co-worker, whom he pushed out of the way. She survived.

“If there’s anyway we can prevent someone else from going through what we have, what we’re still going through, we want to do that,” Yvonne said. “We want to increase safety awareness among drivers. Driving is a privilege and you need to be responsible.”

The couple spoke at a brief media event held at the intersection of Ironside Drive and 40th Avenue in Red Deer on Wednesday afternoon to kick off January as Alberta’s Intersection Safety Month.

Last year, one in five traffic fatalities occurred at an intersection in Alberta, according to the Alberta Office of Traffic Safety.

In 2012, nearly 35,000 collisions occurred at intersections. Seventy people were killed and almost 8,000 injured from these incidents.

It’s not just busy urban intersections that can be dangerous, either, states Alberta Transportation.

About 54 per cent of last year’s fatal intersection-related collisions happened in rural intersections.

Putting the spotlight on intersection safety this month is a campaign from the province to educate drivers about the need for utmost caution and attention at all types of intersections.

It’s also to encourage drivers to develop good habits, such as leaving ample room between your vehicle and the next and watching for pedestrians as well as traffic signs, changing lights and slippery road conditions.

Intersections are one of the four main areas for death and injury on Alberta highways, said Len Wagner, a regional traffic safety consultant.

“This year we decided to do a media rollout blitz for Intersection Safety Month to try to raise that awareness,” he said. “Intersections are dangerous places because of all the interactions between vehicles and pedestrians so people need to really focus on what they’re doing.”

About 88 per cent of collisions in Alberta can be linked directly to driver error, Wagner added.

Jordan, who was a first-year student in the general science program at the University of Alberta, dreamed of becoming a doctor because he wanted to save lives, Yvonne said.

At the time of his death, he had recently returned from Ecuador where he’d participated in the Help, Learn, Discover Pre-Medical/Science program.

“If we can help in carrying on what Jordan wished to do — save lives, even if it’s in a different way, then we owe that to ourselves and to society and I know he would be happy we’re doing that,” Yvonne said.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

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