What can we do to be safer when driving

1- On roads, be respectful of all users, even pedestrians.
2- Drive slowly especially while in town and, even more, in places where there are often people, such as around the coop, the arena and the school. Did you know that the speed limit around schools is 30 km/h?
3- Do not drink and drive. If you plan to have a few drinks, leave your vehicle somewhere you can pick it up the next day, or ask for a ride. You can also walk, which is healthier too!
4- Do not accept a lift if you think the driver is drunk. If an accident happens, you may regret the ride.
5- If you are too young to drive, it is better to walk. You can also ask for a ride. Vehicles are powerful pieces of equipment and heavy; they are not made for kids. Would you get in a plane piloted by a kid?
6- Always turn on your headlights. See and be seen is one of the most important rules when driving.
7- Wear a helmet and protect your head. Head trauma can cause disabilities for life, such as loss of memory or a sense like your hearing or sight, as well as loss of use of your arms or legs. Helmets can prevent 70% to 90% of head trauma. We wear helmets when playing a sport such as kite-skiing, snowboarding or hockey. An OHV accident can be even more dangerous for your head? Wear a helmet.
8- Your snowmobile or four-wheeler is not a bus. OHVs are not designed to transport a lot of passengers. Accidents and just tipping over can have serious consequences for passengers.

Enjoy the ride safely!!

Kuujjuarapik-5

When a Loved One Suffers a Serious Head Trauma

It was an emotional moment a few months ago when Emily told me about the road accident that suddenly changed her life and the life of one of her children. The accident could have happened to anyone; even though, as Emily points out, no one deserves it. That’s why she wanted to tell her story and encourage people, especially young drivers, not to drink or take drugs before driving.

After being involved in an accident caused by drunk driving, her son had to be treated at the Montreal General Hospital for head trauma and other serious injuries. Every day for the first two weeks while he was in a coma, Emily wondered if her son would wake up. It was a long wait and a harrowing experience.

After regaining consciousness and multiple operations, the young man had begun the road to recovery. His hospital stay however was far from over. He needed more than six months of rehabilitation in Montreal to re-learn how to do everything. “He became like a child. A child that cannot do anything […] The saddest part is that I had to teach him how to become an adult again. He couldn’t walk; he couldn’t eat; he couldn’t do things on his own. He couldn’t speak.”

After this kind of accident, it can be impossible to hold a fork, tie your shoes or comb your hair. While it may be hard to fathom the frustration of losing our independence in this way and being unable to express our needs, we can feel the helplessness and distress of a parent seeing her child in this condition. “The most difficult part of this situation during his head injury was when they had an operation for him and removed his skull. It was put away somewhere. I don’t know for how long. I saw him wearing a helmet to protect his head. I was still in shock. I almost didn’t know how to think. I nearly didn’t know what to do. I just listened to the doctors’ orders and the nurses.”

Emily’s son has improved, but she adds, “It totally changed his life. It changed his life. […] He’s lucky he’s alive, but we still have to care for him to this day.” Emily’s life has changed too. In fact, everyone in the young man’s circle of acquaintances has been affected—friends, family and his community.

Drunk driving is the primary cause of accidents and injuries in Nunavik. While Emily was at the hospital, she saw many Nunavimmiut with head trauma, some of whom died while she was there. “It was scary,” she says. “I hope we can follow the rules to protect ourselves and ensure we are safe in our villages, in our homes, no matter where we are […] Some people are lucky they come back well and strong, but some stay crippled in wheelchairs, and some don’t come back at all.”

A serious accident can have life-altering physical or psychological consequences for victims and their families. In terms of Emily’s narrative, our slogan seems particularly appropriate: “On the Right Path, Think Safety; On the Right Path, Think Family; On the Right Path, Think Community.” You can listen to Emily’s story in Inuktitut and English in the THINK- Testimonies section of this website.

Our thanks go out to Emily and all those who have been sharing their experiences.

traumatisme cranien

Passengers on an OHV

As part of the Prevention and Awareness Campaign for OHV Safety in Nunavik (On the Right Path), a fourth promotional poster is in the works. The first three posters focused respectively on the risks posed by drinking and driving, the danger of speeding and fostering helmet use. The newest poster aims to address the significant number of injuries caused by carrying multiple passengers.

In Nunavik, OHVs are the number one means of transportation and are used for traditional harvesting activities. It is common to see multiple family members transported on OHVs at the same time. This practice is however dangerous and results every year in injuries and even deaths. Carrying passengers is prohibited under the law and not recommended by OHV manufacturers unless the vehicle is equipped with a specially designed seat.

Why Is It Dangerous?
- Snowmobiles have a low centre of gravity. With several passengers, snowmobiles are less stable and can flip over more easily.
- ATVs are not constructed to carry multiple passengers: stability decreases and tippy-ness increases.
- Multiple passengers can negatively affect the capacity of a driver to see and move properly.
- Passengers occupying places on the front or sides of an ATV can receive burns on their legs due to contact with the wheels or exhaust pipe, or even be swept under a wheel.
- In the event of an accident, passengers are less protected and can be ejected more easily from an OHV. The risk of serious injuries increases when the driver and passengers are not wearing helmets.
- ATVs are designed to be operated on rugged terrain. They are not designed to be driven at high speeds or on asphalt surfaces (due to reduced traction).

Safety Tips
- To carry a passenger, OHVs must be equipped with a specially designed seat.
- Several trips makes for safer trips for my passengers.
- If it’s only a short distance in town, why not walk?

Share with us your thoughts and suggestions on how to be safer!

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