THUNDER Bay drivers continue to exhibit bad habits despite persistent warnings, dreadful realities and tougher penalties. By mid-July more than 90 people had been charged with impaired driving, mostly men on weekends. The trend to higher numbers of drunk drivers has police worried and stressing, again, that root societal issues have to be addressed.

This city has always had a frontier mentality that causes some to see reckless behaviour as somehow normal. But the terrible consequences can shock even the most hardened individuals when death takes a fellow partier.

Many drivers who wouldn’t dream of driving drunk think that distracted driving is somehow less dangerous. The sight of motorists with eyes on phones in hand is common. What these drivers don’t seem to grasp is that inattentive driving causes more crashes than speeding, drug and alcohol use combined.

Distracted driving is more than just talking and texting. It involves reading, eating, primping in the rear-view mirror, checking your GPS. And it’s a growing trend in spite of higher fines. Last year inattention caused 8,711 highway crashes in Ontario and 87 deaths.

The don’t-care attitude of drivers can be found in other areas, too. A half-ton truck parked in a handicapped spot with no permit visible is pretty common around here. So is parking in fire lanes at malls with emergency flashers on. Is there special dispensation included on the licences of these people?

How about those who leave kids and dogs in cars on hot days? A window cracked a few inches does practically nothing to allow the immense heat buildup to escape. A child left in a car in 20-degree heat for just 10 minutes will start to have respiratory problems.

It’s time for anyone who witnesses illegal and dangerous behaviour by drivers to intervene. Make it clear you’re calling police. You’ll make an important point and perhaps save a life.

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