There Are No Accidents, Just Bad Decisions

We use the term “accident” when referring to car wrecks and other collisions, because most of them are unintentional. But there’s a big problem with that. It’s just too easy to slide from unintentional to unavoidable, in our minds. And that makes it far too easy to overlook the bad decisions that lead to these so-called accidents.

When a driver causes an accident because they are texting, or speeding, or run a red light, that’s not an accident. That’s a conscious choice to put others at risk. Those drivers need to accept responsibility for their choices.

A Problem of Perception

In the 1980’s public awareness campaigns changed the way we perceive drunk driving. Drunk drivers don’t get behind the wheel with the intention of causing wrecks any more than anyone else does, but as a society we no longer accept that as an excuse. When they hurt or kill someone, we hold them criminally and civilly responsible, as well as shunning them as human beings, for their choice to put others at risk.

As a result, more people think first and avoid drinking and driving. Those who choose to take the chance and wind up in an “accident” usually understand that it was a direct result of that bad decision.

But, somehow, we still fail to make that connection when it comes to other bad decisions. You know you really shouldn’t run that red light or roll through the stop sign, but hey! “No cops, no stops!” And if you didn’t, you’d be late for work and then you might lose your job, and how would you feed your kids if that happened? You were practically obligated to run that light, right? If someone does get hurt in the process, you didn’t mean to cause an accident, you were just unlucky. If you were in such a hurry that you ran the light you definitely didn’t have time to deal with an accident. You were just doing what you had to do. What everyone does.

Why should you be held responsible for the other driver’s chronic pain? For the kid that will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair? For the family that just lost their breadwinner? Because you made the decision to put others at risk. It doesn’t matter if you made that choice because you didn’t want to lose your job, your kid was screaming for attention in the backseat, or you just wanted to stay for one more drink that turned into 10. What matters is that you chose to put whatever you wanted above the safety of others, and someone else paid the price. That’s on you.

Don’t Call it an Accident

We can start with one small step that can make a huge change in perception. Stop calling it an accident. Call it a collision, a tragedy, an incident. Call it anything that doesn’t imply that no one is responsible.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto collision, please speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your claim, because there are no true accidents.

Avatar About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.