Accidents . . .

  • September 3, 2023

People often speak of “accidents” as if they just  . . . happen. As if they aren’t – for the most part – avoidable. Many of these same people also wonder why we’re all paying through the nose for insurance, to “cover” all of these “accidents.”

We’d be paying a lot less if people paid more attention.

The truth of this is evident in the fact that some people never or very rarely have “accidents” while others have them regularly. This is not random. It is not bad luck. It is not because the Motor Gods have frowned upon you. It is because most “accidents” don’t just happen. They happen because the driver wasn’t paying attention – and not just to his own driving, in many cases.

If you ride a motorcycle, you probably already know where this is headed. People who ride are much more motivated to avoid having “accidents,” for the obvious reason that if you have one while on a bike, it is much more likely you’ll be the one paying for it.


Even if it’s not your fault.

The driver of the other car will get a ticket. You’ll get a trip to the ER. Or the funeral home. It tends to focus the mind on what’s going on around you. Motorcycle riders learn to not assume that because the light just turned green someone won’t run their red. They are looking left and right as they proceed, just in case someone else wasn’t paying attention and is going to run the red (and would have run right into them).

They learn to look at the front wheels of cars that look like they might be about to enter the main road from a side road; the cant of the wheels is a good indication as to which way the car is going to turn.

They try to make eye contact with the driver, which is a way of confirming the driver sees the rider. And they try to maintain as much physical separation between their bike and other traffic as they can. They don’t ride too close to the car ahead and they try to keep space between them and whatever’s coming up from behind. This not only leaves more room to maneuver out of the way of a potential “accident,” it gives more precious time to make the maneuver, should it become necessary.

This is how one avoids what aren’t really “accidents.”

It’s interesting to take note here of the fact that motorcycles aren’t designed to “keep you safe.” They lack “advanced driver assistance technology,” although some of that electronic dreck is leaching into the two-wheeled world in the form of such things as traction/stability control – a sure harbinger of more “accidents” (on bikes) as this “technology” becomes as ubiquitous on two wheels as it already is on four.

The rider is expected to keep himself safe – as by paying attention to what he is doing and also what traffic is doing. If he does so, it is far less likely he will ever have an “accident.”

It’s no different if you’re driving a car. But many people who drive are less inclined to pay attention because of all the “advanced driver assistance technology” that is now, effectively, standard equipment in every new car. Why pay attention to the car ahead – and whether its driver just hit brakes – when your car has Automatic Emergency Braking? Why keep your eyes on the road, so as to avoid veering off the road because your eyes were on your phone (or the screen that emulates a phone that’s built into the dash of every new car) when your car has Lane Keep Assistance?

Why even bother learning how to Park – without having an “accident” – when your car is equipped with Park Assist Technology and all you have to do when you want to park it curbside is push a button (so you can get back to tapping/swiping your phone)?

It’s remarkable that no attempt has been made to correlate the uptick of “accidents” that has been occurring over the past several years with the increasing prevalence of “advanced driver assistance technology” in new cars and – along with it – the implicit encouraging of not-paying-attention.

As well as not-knowing-what-you’re doing.

Before there was ABS and traction control, drivers were expected to maintain control – and maintain a safe following distance between their car and the one ahead. So that if the car ahead suddenly braked, the driver would have time to react – and enough space to slow down before striking the car ahead.

Drivers were expected to keep their car from wandering across the double yellow into the path of oncoming traffic – and other such “accidents.”

There was also at-fault insurance. If you caused the “accident,” it was on you to pay for it. Many states have passed no-fault insurance laws and when no one’s at fault – that is, when there are no consequences for being at fault – “accidents” tend to happen more often. And we’re all paying for that.

Who’d a thunk it?

. . .

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