Cars collide every day. Vehicles are damaged,
sometimes people are hurt, and tragically, lives are lost. But are they
crashes or accidents? A growing movement seeks to reframe car accidents as crashes, and
with good reason. According to the NHTSA, 94% of car crashes are caused by driver error. Those
aren’t accidents. Calling them accidents takes the blame away from drivers, instead
of encouraging them to take responsibility and change the way they drive.
around the world are seeking to change the mentality that crashes just
happen. Drivers need to learn that they are at fault, that safe roads start with them. In some places, it’s becoming the law
to call crashes what they are. In Nevada, the word accident was changed to crash in dozens of state laws, while NYC policies state that we must “no longer regard
traffic crashes as mere accidents.” More than 28 state DOTs have followed
What about just creating safer roads? Install some speed humps, put speed display signs in, won’t that stop crashes from
happening? The truth is that cities do have to do their part to create safer streets.
Engineering roads that are safer for all users is an important aspect of
keeping drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians safe. But ultimately, the key
component of safer streets is the
driver behind the wheel. Even a slight distraction away
from the road puts everyone in danger.
an endless array of apps, music streaming, and messages beckoning today’s
drivers, it should be no surprise that fatality rates are on the rise. Every distraction, digital or
otherwise, affects driver’s perception response time (PRT). Anytime a driver encounters
something unexpected, she must detect the object, decide whether it’s a
hazard, choose how
to respond, and then act. Driving is a complex activity
that requires complete attention. Almost all crashes can be avoided. But
drivers need to try.