CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

The mayor of L.A. is cut off by a taxi; it’s “his accident.”

I particularly enjoyed the rather abstract language near the bottom.

The LAPD issued a directive instructing officers that a motorist can be held responsible for causing a bicycle accident even if he or she did not make direct contact with the rider — and can be arrested for fleeing the scene, Box said.

In other words, striking a bike with your car is “causing a bicycle accident.”

(thanks Peter)

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010 at 2:21 pm and is filed under The Accidental Journalist. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)”

  1. Tom Says:

    I’m one of those folks who rankle at the term, “accident” for stuff like this. It is clear to me that letting one’s attention drift from the matter at hand–driving–is not an accident. Failure to watch for other road users, regardless of size, is not an accident. “I didn’t see him,” is not a viable excuse, in most cases, especially if the other road user is either lit at night or has semi-bright colors in daylight (there is, however, a separate discussion over “bike ninjas” and such).

    In short, a crash is a crash, not an “accident.” If you can’t see a cyclist wearing bright colors or using lights, you probably need to have your vision checked. That such a vision check may lead to losing one’s license to drive is a realistic fear for many. Those folks should be off our roads. They are a danger to ALL road users around them, not just pedestrians and cyclists.

  2. Opus the Poet Says:

    “I didn’t see him” should be taken as an admission of guilt, not an easy excuse. Think about it, if a person can’t see a bicycle, much less a bicycle being ridden by an adult human being, how can they possibly see the lines painted on the roads that direct him or her into the correct space on the roads? Those lines are much smaller than even a bicycle and lay flat to boot.

  3. Opus the Poet Says:

    And speaking of wrecks, when does the NHTSA plan on updating their website with the 2009 crash data? as of right now it still only goes as far as 2008. I know there’s a .pdf with the 2009 data, but all it has is the 2009 data, there’s nothing to compare it to.

  4. fred_dot_u Says:

    Opus, you might find amusing the argument I received recently in a near-road-rage incident. The truck driver told me that the car driver ahead of him had to “swerve” to avoid me and that he barely saw me in time to avoid running me over. The video shows the vehicle operator behind me making a safe, normal lane change, while the truck driver comes ripping up at excessive speed.

    One often adjusts the “facts” to meet their illusions, I think.

    Search YouTube for “Horatio Truck Hornblower” for the three minute clip. He didn’t like my suggestion that if he could not see me, he should have his eyesight checked. I was using the same argument you suggested, about the lines, and you can see my gesture to the ground, in the clip, but I think I had lost his attention at that point.

  5. Josh R Says:

    More and more I think that if you want to get away with the perfect murder, all you have to do is get someone unknown to the intended victim to get into a car “accident” with them. All they have to do is say “Oh gosh, I didn’t see them, I’m REALLY sorry.” and they’ll get off with a slap on the wrist.

    This was in our local paper today, two people dead, driver who cause the crash had two decades worth of speeding and careless driving tickets, and the guy gets probation. It’s just this staggeringly huge blind spot where as soon as you get behind the wheel your actions somehow become detached from any responsibility. Just acts of god, nothing anyone could have prevented.

    http://www.startribune.com/local/west/98823729.html?page=1&c=y

  6. Rich Wilson Says:

    I always add a comment when I see a local news story refer to a collision as an accident before all, if any, of the facts are in. I am usually ignored, unless someone tells me to get a life.

  7. Rich Wilson Says:

    Here’s another one:
    http://www.ksby.com/news/car-blows-up-in-highway-1-accident-near-buellton/

    The official CHP release was:
    Traffic Collision – Ambulance Responding – 1 at El Jaro Creek Brdg 8:18 PM

    * 2 Vehicles Crashed, Blew Up, One is Truck Pick-Up Truck,

    Other is Honda 8:18 PM

  8. njkayaker Says:

    fred_dot_u, if the truck driver could barely see you, what was he honking at?? (He started honking, it appears, from a long way off.)

  9. fred_dot_u Says:

    Tongue in cheek, I’m guessing that he was honking at the driver who “had to swerve to avoid me” so that driver would get out of his way :-)

    I think that’s why the conversation ended when I suggested that he have his eyes examined. I have a problem remaining coherent in the rare instances where I get to discuss traffic flow with motorists, but this time seemed to go pretty well.

    As noted in the video, 20 seconds straight horn blowing has no value, no purpose.

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How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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