Was It Really An Accident?
Maybe Accidents Aren't So, Well... Accidental
As defined in one standard American dictionary, an accident is identified as "anything that happens suddenly or by chance without an apparent cause; often harmful, causing injury etc". After thoughtfully pondered over this textbook definition, I started to wonder if most traffic accidents were really "accidents" whatsoever? I started reminiscing back and recalling past car accidents I had observed in my past, like that day my aunt Anita backed her minivan into the neighbor's mailbox. Well, now that I think back, she was simultaneously applying her makeup at the time. And the time my cousin Nate side-swiped another car? I have to confess he was going a good 10 miles over the speed limit when he made impact. And my poor grandpa ran a red light once and winded up colliding with a mail truck - wouldn't you know it, gramps had forgotten to take his medication that day.
Soooo…are car accidents truly, well, accidental? The more and more I think about it, the more I recognize that most accidents are indeed avoidable. If auntie Anita had been looking behind her as she reversed, the mailbox would not have suffered, if my cousin had been observing the speed limit, he could have steered clear of his fender bender, and if gramps had remembered to take his medication, he wouldn't have zoned-out and ran that red light. In fact, according to the official CA DMV website, the main causes of auto accidents are operator errors, and the most common vehicle operator errors that lead to an auto accident are:
- Driving at unsafe speeds
- Distracted driving
- Violation of the right-of-way rules
- Driving on the wrong side of the street
- Making improper turns
- Running stop signals and signs
In almost each occurrence of a so called "accident", some sort of pre-emptive measure very well might have saved the day. Common examples of accident-avoidance preventative measures people could make include checking your tire pressure and tread depth regularly to help evade tire blow-outs, as well as driving at safer speeds and keeping recommended space cushions with other vehicles to avoid collisions.
Making Sense Out Of 'Accidents'
Because most car accidents are avoidable, they aren't in truth accidental at all; maybe a better idiom to use would be the term collision, which is defined as two objects crashing into each other. Explained more clearly, a collision happens when the distance between two cars becomes non-existent. This explanation explains why one traffic court judge once chortled when a naive courtroom lawyer once questioned "How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?" Defining a collision at this simple most level can help all drivers realize the significance of not keeping a large space cushion around their car, maintaining a safe speed, and hopefully avoiding future fender-benders completely. To keep yourself navigating the roads accident free for decades to come, check out The TrafficSchool.com Guide to Driving Accident-Free.