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.

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* 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.

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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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Parents Can Dramatically Affect Their Children’s Future Safety by the Example they Set

People with children know how much their little ones like to emulate the things that parents do, whether it is an older sister trying to mother her younger siblings or a son playing ball with his daddy.

I took this photograph with my cellphone a few days ago, while parked and waiting for somebody. The mother has left her distracted little girl behind on what is a busy, parking lot road, with both of them seemingly oblivious to the danger. (Copyright image, 2019.)

For better or for worse, children also faithfully copy what they see their parents do on the roads, whether this is in a vehicle or as pedestrians (and this is research, incidentally, not just our opinion).

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Advanced Drivers of North America’s Role in the USA’s “Vision Zero” Goals

If your corporation or small business employs drivers, Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] can take them farther towards maximum safety than any other training supplier in the USA, and this article outlines how.

The Road to Zero Coalition logo
Advanced Drivers of North America is proud to be a member of the Road To Zero coalition.

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America’s Most Dangerous Intersections — the Need for More, Better-Designed Roundabouts, plus Accurate Info for Drivers!

In an article published in January 2018, Business Insider listed the most dangerous intersection in every state in the USA, and in each case there was an accompanying photograph, although not always from a suitable angle or elevation.

From what can be seen in the photographs, many of the intersections would benefit tremendously from the installation of a roundabout.  Roundabouts don’t necessarily reduce the overall number of collisions — indeed when first installed a roundabout may see an increase in the number of minor collisions while people get used to the new type of intersection — but the number of serious collisions, involving injuries and deaths, will drop dramatically as long as the roundabout is well-designed, and just as importantly, as long as the drivers in that state are being taught the best way to drive into, around and out of roundabouts.  However, while the first of these points is increasingly being met (although not so in the first photograph shown below), the second — the education aspect — is deliberately and unforgivably being rejected by the FHWA, and as a result, all state-level DOTs that we know of.

A photograph from above of a roundabout intersection in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan.
This intersection in West Bloomfield Township is the most dangerous in Michigan and is logically therefore one of the most dangerous in the USA. Given that it is already a roundabout, this is particularly disappointing because roundabouts are the safest form of intersection. The conclusion must therefore be that one or more things are wrong with this particular roundabout (see the article text, below) and perhaps with other relevant factors in Michigan in general. (Photo: Google Maps)

Back in 2010, at a conference in Washington, DC, about the then-imminent commencement of the international ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020’, I had the good fortune to meet the very likable Joe Toole, who was then the head of the Federal Highway Administration [FHWA], one of the two executive divisions of the USDOT. Continue reading “America’s Most Dangerous Intersections — the Need for More, Better-Designed Roundabouts, plus Accurate Info for Drivers!”

Good Observations for Safe Driving (with Photographs)

The photographs in this article were taken around a Bronze Advanced Driving course, with Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA], in south east Massachusetts.   They each show typical driving scenes but give only a very small insight into the discussions about the standards of the observations that are essential to effective driver training and to all safe driving.

Photograph taken from a vehicle driving through a small Massacusetts town, showing various potentially hazardous scenarios.
A typical driving scenario in beautiful, small-town America, showing many potential hazards that most drivers sadly get away with ignoring, but each of which, when ignored, can at the very least result in damaged vehicles or something much worse.   Copyright image.

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15th Annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws – 2018

The following is the introduction to this important document from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a document which highlights that various state governments around the USA are unacceptably lax in creating laws which could save many thousands of American lives each year :

We Don’t Have to Wait for Fully Autonomous Cars to Stop Needless Deaths and Injuries
Effective and Available Countermeasures Must Be Adopted Now

The 2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws marks the 15th annual publication by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates). This report serves as a navigational tool giving guidance on successful measures to reduce preventable motor vehicle deaths, injuries and crash costs. Each day on average, approximately 100 people are killed and 6,500 more are injured on our roadways across the country. Yet, solutions continue to languish or be ignored in state capitals, Congress and at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Photograph of rush-hour highway traffic, Washington D.C.
Rush-hour traffic, Washington D.C. (Copyright image.)

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Naïve or Inaccurate Claims about Highway Safety Improvements do More Harm than Good

Claims that this-or-that highway safety program or this-or-that new idea has had a profound effect on road deaths are commonly very misleading, and a new claim from Alabama undoubtedly comes into this category.
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Astonishingly, the USA Does Not Meet the Basic Road Safety Standards of the W.H.O.

While it is something one might reasonably expect only in relation to poorer, “third-world” countries, the United States of America fails to do well in any of the legislative requirements to achieve basic standards of road safety, as outlined in the most-recent edition of the Global Status Report on Road Safety, by the World Health Organisation [WHO].

W.H.O. Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 - Front Cover
W.H.O. Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 – Front Cover

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New York is Top State in USA Enforcement Efforts to Make Highways Safer

NYS DMV Press Release – Monday, July 24, 2017

New York is the top state in the nation in taking steps to reduce injuries and fatalities on its roadways, a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says. No state has taken as many steps to curtail the number of crashes as the Empire State. As a result, New York had one of the lowest rates of traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents in the nation, according to 2013 data cited in the report.

NYS DMV logo

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ADoNA: The Clear Leader in U.S. Driver Safety and Training – a Research Victory

For over ten years, Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] has been teaching the important fact that official “overall stopping distances” for cars have been inaccurate and needed to be treated as being significantly longer than previously thought.  Now, at last, our own calculations have been proven appropriate and extremely accurate.

An excellent graphic from Brake showing the old versus new 'overall stopping distances' in which each car length represents 13 feet.
An excellent graphic from Brake showing the old versus new ‘overall stopping distances’ in which each car length represents 13 feet. (New distances shown above old distances, at each speed.)

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