Stop using the ‘A word’

Re: Olsen Case draws attention, Jan. 4. Thanks, Jeff Hanson, for your letter. I agree with much of it and would like to add a few thoughts.

Re: Olsen Case draws attention, Jan. 4.

Thanks, Jeff Hanson, for your letter. I agree with much of it and would like to add a few thoughts.

You say: “There is no such thing as happenstance or accidents.” I know that any collision reconstruction specialist will tell us that 99 per cent of all cases they deal with are preventable.

Ultimately, responsibility for all problems on our roadways belongs to the people in the system, not the vehicles or the environment. However, the Alberta Motor Association and, I believe, traffic safety personnel everywhere associate accidents with words like “unpredictable and unpreventable” or “acts of God or nature” or “fate.”

I think we (peace officers, media, driver educators, public) all need to be accurate in our choice of words and be careful not to perpetuate the use of phrases such as “alcohol-related accidents” and “accident prevented.” The AMA does not use the “A word” and police organizations use the term “collision report.” After all, we are what we think and we unconsciously say what we think.

Since people and systems are imperfect, we all need to expect the unexpected when driving and to do that we need to focus all our attention on the task at hand. Distractions, inattention and carelessness are primary issues with problems in the system.

For example, the AMA teaches that before entering an intersection, it is the responsibility of the driver to check left, centre, right, left and proceed only when absolutely safe. No traffic control device guarantees our safety.

I urge all users of our roadways to be proactive and adopt the attitude that “safety is a way of life and we’re all responsible for each other” so that our communities become even better places to live.

Kieran Lang

Red Deer