There Are No “Accidents”
SPOILER ALERT: This post may be a little jaded to the “plaintiff’s attorney” side of me. But, if you hear me out, I believe you (even you defense attorneys out there) will get my point, and maybe even agree with it.
Too often the public refers to car crashes as “accidents.” Feel free to disagree with me, but to me an accident is an unexpected incident over which one has absolutely no control. An accident is something that happens to a three year old that pees on grandma’s new carpet. Contrast that innocent occurrence with the conscious choices made by drivers on our roads every day.
When a person gets behind the wheel of a car, he or she agrees to follow certain laws. I won’t talk specifically about those laws here–we know them well enough. I want to talk generally though about the commonly understood rules that we all understand and would, hopefully, agree to be true. For example:
- A driver is not allowed to needlessly endanger the public.
- A driver must pay attention at all times or he needlessly endangers the public.
- A driver must obey the speed limit at all times or he needlessly endangers the public.
- A driver must not drive if he is distracted (cell phone, radio, etc.) or he needlessly endangers the public.
- A driver must not drive while intoxicated or he needlessly endangers the public.
If a person consciously chooses to violate one of these (or other) safety rules, and causes a crash, how can we as a society call that an “accident?” I can think of no situation (excepting maybe an act of God or an unforeseen emergency) where a car crash occurs absent somebody’s violation of a safety rule–someone didn’t pay attention, someone was speeding, someone didn’t look, someone was drunk, whatever. A deliberate conscious decision by a driver that needlessly endanger the public is not an accident. It is a dangerous choice that all too often results in serious injuries to the public.
If we are ever going to see a reduction in the astronomically high number of car crashes, we are going to have to demand more accountability from ourselves and from other drivers. We need to make the decision to follow the laws, follow the rules, and pay attention to other drivers.