After a Crash, Claiming that Something Happened 'Suddenly' is Usually Just an Excuse

It’s a very misguided belief that crashes are somehow acceptable if something went wrong ‘suddenly,’ on the road ahead.

Writing this as a retired traffic patrol police officer who has dealt with and investigated countless crashes, I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve been at a crash scene and had drivers tell me:

“It wasn’t my fault. Suddenly they [drove/walked/ran/cycled] right out in front of me!”

Here’s a classic example of a potentially lethal crisis that could easily be avoided not only by the pedestrian using more sense but also by any approaching driver. (Copyright image, 202o. All rights reserved. [Photo taken from passenger seat.])

A driver might actually feel justified in making such a comment but the difference between a poor driver and a truly good driver is that the poor driver could very likely be telling the officer this while standing near to people who have quite unnecessarily been killed or injured.

The fact is that to a properly-trained* driver, virtually nothing happens ‘suddenly,’ up ahead, because they are thinking ahead, planning their drive, and using a disciplined, accurate and relevant regime of observations. (And this typically does NOT follow the common but simplistic advice of merely looking 10/12/15 seconds ahead of your vehicle. There is much more to it than that!)

Does this mean that a person we are calling a ‘good driver’ plans and makes allowances for other people’s errors or even downright stupidity, so that the potetial collisions never happen? Yes; you bet it does.

Think of it another way. Would you sooner go home and tell your family that you were in a collision that killed somebody, or would it be nicer to tell them — for example — “a child ran out in front of me today but I had thought of the possibility and slowed down before I even saw the kid, so he’s okay!”

This is just one example of what proper advanced driving is about, and it saves lives every day.

Anyway, here’s the full sequence for the critical moment shown in the photograph above:

As you can see: A pick-up pulling out from a street on the left, and a man correctly using the crosswalk. (Copyright image, 202o. All rights reserved. [Photo taken from passenger seat.])
The woman foolishly ignores the very nearby crosswalk and crosses between slow moving vehicles. Note that if she had crossed behind that huge pick-up truck rather than in front of it, she would still have been out of sight to vehicles coming from the camera direction. (Copyright image, 202o. All rights reserved. [Photo taken from passenger seat.])
The moment of crisis. Cars approaching from the camera direction can legally be doing 30mph, which is 44 feet-per-second, which is fast enough to create a very significant risk of a pedestrian being killed. (Copyright image, 202o. All rights reserved. [Photo taken from passenger seat.])
And the ‘reason’ for this pedestrian’s illegal act of stupidity? Why, to get to her car without walking an extra 30-40 paces, of course. Really well worth risking life and limb for! (Copyright image, 202o. All rights reserved. [Photo taken from passenger seat.])

But here’s the key point…. In which of the above photographs did you first see the woman?

I hope you were truthfully able to answer the first photo in the group of four. Anything less than that is not paying enough attention — the first stage of distracted driving — and in turn, that invalidates any excuse that something “happened suddenly,” ahead of you.

Not convinced?

Here it is again, close-up:

Admittedly she’s quite well obscured but is there to be seen, none-the-less. (Copyright image, 202o. All rights reserved. [Photo taken from passenger seat.])

It is worth adding that it doesn’t really matter to whom a court attributes blame after a crash; the only thing that really matters is harm to people or — more appropriately — the lack of harm to people.

Becoming a dramatically more attentive and observant driver is a small price to pay if one day you or one of your fleet drivers are truly able to prevent a death or a serious injury that a regular driver would have failed to anticipate.

Can some drivers do such things naturally, without additional training? The answer to this is that everyone is occasionally capable of spotting something in advance but — having trained many thousands of already-experienced drivers for Fortune-500 companies and other major corporations — we can honestly say that nobody we have ever trained was already near the standard of seeing as much as they could have done or should have done.

It really is that important.


* The training we provide, at Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA], is based very closely on the ‘System of Car Control’ — nowadays sometimes referred to by the acronym of ‘IPSGA’ — which has been continually refined and developed since 1935 by the traffic patrol police in Britain who, in turn, are acknowledged as being the safest drivers in the world.

It’s not just for police drivers though. It was adapted for civilian drivers in 1955.

Importantly, though, at ADoNA, we have also very carefully adapted the System for the highway engineering, the rules and the road safety culture in the U.S.A.


To discuss what ADoNA training could do for your corporation in terms of dramatically improved safety as well as huge financial savings and a visible increase in community image, please Contact Us.


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Drivers in Pick-up Trucks or SUVs are More Likely to Kill Pedestrians

There’s a new report out from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association [GHSA] regarding major increases in the numbers of pedestrians being killed on the roads of the USA, and one of the reasons given for this very regrettable situation is the involvement of pick-up trucks and SUVs.

The high, solid fronts of pick-up trucks and SUVs cause devastating and often fatal injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. By comparison, cars — with their sloping hoods and increased engineering to be safer in collisions with vulnerable road users — are much less likely to kill. (Copyright image, 2017.)

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Ideal Mixed (Bad!) Weather Conditions for a Gold Advanced Driving Course

Of all the different levels of driver training we provide at Advanced Drivers of America [AD0NA], “Gold” courses are often the most gratifying because we can guide and watch people achieving the highest levels of safety — far above the standards that other drivers are even aware of.

The very first driving day (following a full day in a classroom setting) was by far the most challenging for the weather, but while this isn’t always available, the snow was an ideal addition for the purposes of a gold-standard, maximum safety, advanced driving course. Copyright image.

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Defensive and Advanced Driving Courses in Montreal, Canada

Whether it is due perhaps to long-term rigorous traffic enforcement, to the mandatory driver training for all young drivers, or to a good safety culture in general, drivers in Montreal certainly appear to have a better-than-average attitude towards Vulnerable Road Users [VRU], and in turn, this makes the city a pleasant place for training (or learning) defensive and advanced driving.

Cars in Montreal typically stop well before the stop line at crosswalks, creating greater safety for pedestrians.
As is common in Montreal, the cars in this photograph have stopped well before the crosswalk ‘stop’ line (rather than on it or even after it) which makes things much safer for pedestrians.  (Copyright image, 2018.)

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Cruise Control is More Important and More Useful than Most Drivers Realize

What could any experienced driver possibly need to learn about cruise control?  You would be surprised!  Most drivers who attend our courses don’t know all of its benefits, or more importantly all of its possible risks.

The switches for cruise control can look different from one automaker to another but they all cover the same functions. (Copyright image, 2018.)

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Driving Issues the USA Teaches Badly: Pulling Straight Off the Shoulder

Do not drive on the shoulder!  It’s a state law in many states but we have yet to encounter any Federal agency or state government in America that actually teaches this subject well… meaning for best safety!

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Dangerous Passing in the Early Morning

As we were driving southwards, at the very start of the morning rush hour, this road sweeper went by in the opposite direction, kicking up a cloud of thick dust.

Photo of a pavement sweeper in a long construction zone.
A slow-moving road sweeper — perhaps doing 15-20mph — triggered some drivers to dangerously overtake it illegally, on double yellow lines.  (Copyright image, 2018.)

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Work-Related Defensive and Advanced Driving Courses in Cities in the USA and Canada

Most of our requests for the provision of safety training for drivers, whether at defensive or advanced driving levels, relate to city locations throughout the USA and Canada.  This short article is intended to provide some guidance for our corporate clients on how to get the best return from your investment in connection with city-based courses.

Photograph of relatively light traffic on a major road in Seattle, WA.
Relatively light traffic — in this case in Seattle — is naturally easier to deal with for drivers, but average speeds can be higher in these conditions so potential dangers can be a bit different, too. Uniquely,  at ADoNA,  we teach a fully time- and research-proven *system* of driving which allows the widest-possible range of dangers to be safely negotiated,  not just five or six of them.  Please use our CONTACT US link if you would like to request a summary of the basic themes we teach, covering over 300 safety topics.  (Copyright image, 2014.)

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Defensive Driving Courses in Denver and Boulder, Colorado, and the Benefits

Two important things about safe, defensive or advanced driving courses from Advanced Drivers of North America are that (a) we will work anywhere in the USA and Canada, as well the islands on either side of the continent, and (b) you will always get highly-trained instructors, not — to be frank — somebody who has received only a few days of severely inadequate training, themselves.  (And yes, that really does happen.)

Photograph of the gear selector in an automatic car which also facilitates a manual shift approach.
At training locations where we can use hills (the steeper the better) ADoNA will teach your employees how to utilize the gears on either a stick shift or, as in this photo, an automatic vehicle that permits manual ‘lock-down’ into any of the lower gears. At the very least, this approach reduces hard wear and tear on your vehicles and at best it makes going down steep hills in slippery winter conditions much safer. But it has to be done correctly because doing it poorly can actually increase crash risk. (Copyright image, 2018)

All of our behind-the-wheel training, except for any brief but necessary corrections to unsafe steering technique, is done on active roads — the only place where comprehensive training can take place, and where a very wide range of random risk scenarios can be encountered to facilitate an upgrade to relevant techniques for trainees’ future use.

Denver and Boulder are cities in which we have worked many times for several major clients and they are firmly among our favorite cities at which to run courses.  This is for the simple reason that the area offers just about every conceivable type of road challenge, on which we can teach a very wide range of safety considerations and techniques.  This type of variety is most important in developing drivers with a much broader and more effective defense against bad things happening.

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A Defensive Driving Course we Held on Rural Roads in Virginia

Sadly, most Americans have no idea that rural roads are, by a very big margin, the most dangerous roads in the country!

Photo of a semi-tractor-trailer and an agricultural tractor passing each other at a crossroads on a rural road.
‘Rush-hour’ on a rural road!  Well, alright… not quite, but would you expect to meet a semi-tractor-trailer and an agricultural tractor passing each other at a middle-of-nowhere crossroads, on a curve?  (Copyright image, 2018.)

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