Monthly Archives: March 2015

An Accident Is No Accident


It was just after seven o’clock one summer evening in Los Angeles.   Bob had spent the entire day washing, waxing and polishing his car.   Now he was headed for the apartment he shared with three fellow students to get shaved, showered and suited up for a very important date that Saturday night.   As he approached the intersection at Eighth and Vermont, at the speed limit and with the green light, he noticed a car lined up in the opposite direction waiting to turn left after he passed through.   Bob never made it through that intersection.   The car waiting to turn left was hit from behind and suddenly lurched into his path. They collided head-on at a combined speed of about 35 miles per hour.   Needless to say Bob missed his date that night and instead spent the next two months recovering from his injuries.   The driver of the other car did not survive the crash.

Most people would call what happened that night an “accident”.   That’s what the paper called it the next day when the story appeared describing what happened.   But an accident is by definition something which happens by chance.   This didn’t happen by chance.   That’s why we call these events “collisions” or “crashes”.   These happen because someone did something they should not have done or did not do something they should have done!   It’s called “driver error” which is the number one overall cause of collisions. In the example above one of the drivers did something he should not have done.   Were it not for that one simple mistake, Bob would not have been involved in this collision at all and the life of the other driver might have been spared.   Two questions:   First, can you name that simple mistake?   Second, can you name the number one error drivers make which causes most collisions?

“Wait a minute!” you’re saying, “What if the weather or a mechanical failure causes a crash? You can’t blame me for that.”   It’s bad form but allow me to answer that with another question.   Actually two questions.   Whose responsibility is it to make good decisions about whether or not to drive in bad weather?   And, whose responsibility is it to see that the vehicle is in good mechanical condition?   As the driver you’re captain of the ship.   The captain is responsible for the ship, anyone who’s in it and anything that happens to it.  

By the way, I’m Bob in the story above.   As I’ve said before, statistically speaking, an average driver can expect to have three crashes in a typical driving career.   I’ve had my three.   In the first two I was critically injured.   In the third crash I was killed.   Well, not really but I like to throw that line in – followed by a long pause – just to see if anyone is listening.

This is not about how to drive.   This is about staying alive!   See you next time . . . I hope!