Is it really an accident?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ac-ci-dent n. 1) a happening that is not expected, foreseen, or intended.

2) an unpleasant and unintended happening, sometimes resulting from negligence, that results in injury, loss, damage, etc.

Traffic "accidents" are an all too common occurrence in today's society. Hardly a day passes without hearing or seeing some report about one.

This constant bombardment can desensitize many, and lead to an apathetic approach to our personal driving habits. The fact is that unless you have been involved in a serious crash, or had a family member involved in one, you may not realize how much of a blessing a safe trip really is.

Part of this problem lies in the definition of "accident." The two Webster's definitions above seem to make sense in most applications, except for the purposes of this article. The main discrepancy law enforcement would want changed is the word "sometimes."

Yes, a traffic accident would be "happening that is not expected, foreseen, or intended". But the main issue is the phrase "sometimes resulting from negligence." The word "sometimes" needs to be replaced with the phrase "almost always." The vast majority of traffic accidents are directly attributed to driver error, or negligence. These errors are known by many names....excessive speed, distractions, drug / alcohol impairment, failure to maintain control, etc.

Webster is correct in saying that traffic accidents are unexpected, unforeseen, and unintended. No one leaves their driveway expecting to be involved in a traffic accident. But the fact remains that 126 Iowans have lost their lives this year in that very way.

When the public sees traffic "accidents" for what they really are, driving habits will change. When driving habits change, we will see fewer and fewer people losing their lives on our roads.

The Iowa State Patrol will continue to do its part to bring about this change through enforcement and education. Please drive defensively this Memorial Day.