“Crash” Not “Accident”

crash-not-accident.jpg.662x0_q70_crop-scaleBy now many of you have heard about the tragedy on Snowville Road in Brecksville last Thursday. At 7:10 PM, a group of riders traveling east down Snowville Road were struck by a person traveling in a truck attempting to make a left hand turn onto Dewey Ave, leaving four injured and one dead. It has been less than a day since the incident and the response has ranged from sadness, to dismay, to the inevitable victim blaming and mantra of “accidents happen.”

Calling a collision by a licensed automobile operator who failed to yield the right of way to an oncoming two-wheeled vehicle an “accident” is wrong. It was completely preventable, so let’s call it what it was: a crash. We don’t have “plane accidents”, we have “plane crashes” where we investigate and find the cause of the crash, then attempt to mitigate the chances it happens again. Local cyclist Zac Chappell feels the same way but uses a different example, industry –

“In industry when we have an injury we don’t just go “accidents will happen” and move on. We call it an incident, figure out why it happened, and implement hard counter measures so it doesn’t happen again.

If the root cause is determined to be operator error, we double down on training. Ditto if the issue is a problem with a fixture, tool, or infrastructure, we change it. Why should this be any different?”

Saying “accidents happen” does not put us on the path to preventing things like this from happening again. It forgives and condones the tragedy while we wait for another “accident” to happen again. If accidents just “happen” then we are admitting we are powerless to prevent them, and the truth is that the overwhelming majority of crashes are both predictable and preventable. We need to be better. City Lab have a good article talking about this you should read.

The results of the police investigation are still pending, but knowing that intersection very well it is obvious that the truck failed to yield the right of way. Some news outlets are speculating that sun glare was a contributing factor. I contend that if you cannot see where you are going, then don’t turn across an oncoming lane. Moreover, if you can’t see, pull over and stop driving.

We need to be better, and we are capable of it….but first, we need to empower ourselves by calling incidents like this crashes, not accidents.

Here is a copy of the letter we have sent to local media regarding the issue.

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