9 Sep 2013

Accident, or "negligent collision"?

Having seen the appalling carnage on the news following the Sheppey bridge incident I was prompted to consider the word “accident”.

For a very long time we have used the term “accident” to describe any incident involving a vehicle and anything else, whether it be another vehicle, a tree, an animal or a human. For a long time we have filled in “Accident Report Forms” for insurance companies. For a long time the emergency services referred to these incidents as RTAs (Road Traffic Accidents) but the emergency services changed that a few years ago and changed it to RTC (Road Traffic Collision).

Now I am sure that very few people actually go out to cause a collision, although the crash and flash for cash brigade are an exception to that rule so the term “accident” may actually seem to fit the bill – but does it? If you crash your car it has happened for a reason and may I be so bold as to say that the reason is actually “negligence”? OK it’s a nasty word used by legal types when making claims in the Courts for injuries, but really, is a collision between your vehicle and another one an “accident” or has it resulted out of someone’s negligence? It’s a well-known principle that if you drive into the back of a stationary vehicle it is your fault because you failed to leave a large enough gap between you and the vehicle in front given the speed and prevailing conditions. From another viewpoint, in the majority of cases you weren’t paying attention … that’s negligent.

With last week’s pile up on the Sheppey bridge there must have been probably 50 or 80 drivers who were negligent in their driving – either too close to the vehicle in front, lack of observation or simple distraction to cause them to strike the vehicle in front. I bet the rest were driving properly and may have stopped before hitting the vehicle in front (well done to those people) only to have the rear of the vehicle crushed by the vehicle behind driven by someone who wasn’t paying attention. I saw an interview on the TV last night of just such an incident.

So the debate begins, should we start calling these negligent collisions rather than accidents? It might make a few people sit up and think about the standard of their driving.

Article by Paul Eldred