Is It Really An Accident When It Is Avoidable?

Two people died on the roads in my county in twenty four hours.

The first call went out for “Car vs Deer”. This rarely ends well for the deer, but it is also unusual for it to take a human life. Unusual, but not unheard of. What made this particularly unusual was the sequence of events. When I heard the car that impacted the animal as a Prius, I immediately thought, “Uh-oh.” A picture of the Prius entered my mind. While an excellent vehicle for energy conservation, any small vehicle gives me pause when I think of safety. What ended up being unusual, however, is that the Prius driver was largely unhurt.

The fatality occurred in the vehicle BEHIND the Prius, a Nissan Xterra. It seems the deer was thrown into the air after being struck by the Prius, and landed on the passenger side windshield, coming through the windshield and striking the passenger and inflicting fatal injuries. Others were injured in the collisions behind that, but the other injuries were generally regarded as “non life threatening.” As I was explaining the accident to my eleven year-old, he asked, “how high in the air did the deer go?” A reasonable question. While I had no exact answer, I responded that it shouldn’t have been very high. He responded, “Then why was the truck following so close?”

Another reasonable question.

The following day, a man died after his car went on the road, striking a mailbox, and a telephone pole. The dispatch information stated, “passenger trapped under the dashboard”. As my radio was on, my son also heard the dispatch. He asked what that meant, and I explained where the dashboard was, and how it could have happened. He then asked, “Why didn’t the seatbelt stop him?”

The kid is a genius.

I hope that, in these tragedies, my readers, and the public, can learn some important lessons about what really causes accidents and injuries. While I am writing this while the investigations are still ongoing, and I was not on the scene of either accident, initial information that I have would suggest that not following too closely, and/or wearing seatbelts would likely have yielded different results this weekend.