There Aren't Nearly Enough Accidents:
by Tom Magliozzi
The reason there are so many traffic accidents is that there aren't nearly enough traffic accidents.
The paragraph above represents the kind of in-depth thinking that goes on here at Car Talk Plaza.
And what we have here is possibly a Zen koan, maybe just an interesting paradox, or perhaps simply the raving of a crazy old man. You be the judge.
But first, allow me to explain.
If you take the time (as I did) to look up the definition of "accident," you'll discover that it means an unforeseen-or unexpected-event. Thus, if an event is foreseen or expected, by definition it isn't an accident. But unforeseen by whom? If the "incident" is unforeseen by some snot-nosed teenager, can it be considered an actual accident? Or was it simply unforeseen by someone who unforesees just about everything and therefore doesn't count-and therefore IS foreseen and therefore is not an accident?
My contention is this: most of the automobile "incidents" that we typically refer to as "accidents" aren't really accidents at all, simply because you'd have to be a complete moron to NOT expect them. Allow me, if you will, to elucidate.
We have certain mechanisms in place to help prevent-or at least reduce the likelihood of-accidents: stop signs, traffic lights, speed limits, tailgating laws, etc. Nearly all-if not all-traffic incidents occur because someone is violating or disregarding one or more of these rules, laws, etc.
Now consider the number of times that you have disregarded or violated one of these rules. These are rules that have been designed to prevent accidents. These rules are not frivolous. They mostly make sense. What they say is this: "Violate the rule and you'll probably have an accident." Therefore, if you violate the rule, a reasonable and prudent person should EXPECT to have an accident (I mean "incident").
You go through a stop sign. If an accident is the expected result, then is it an accident if you hit someone? Of course not. It's an accident (an unexpected result) if you DON'T hit someone! Are you with me? Good.
So, why do so many people disregard the laws? Why do so many people so often disregard commonsense rules? Answer: Because they get away with it so often-without, as they say, incident. And because they do it so often without incident, there are accidents. If they didn't get away with it as often, they would be more careful and there would be fewer accidents! Thus:
There are so many accidents because there aren't enough accidents.
It really does make perfect sense, doesn't it?
The prescriptive advice, then, is quite obvious. In order to reduce the number of accidents, we must have more accidents.
I warned you that we were talking "deep thinking," didn't I?
Are You Doing Your Part?
You must do your part. I can see the bumper sticker now: "Do your part! Hit someone today!"
The next time someone goes through a stop sign, don't slam on the brakes. Hit him!
The next time some jerk cuts you off, don't swerve into the curb. Smash into her!
And be sure to perform these acts of bravery and selflessness at times that will cause the most disruption. No sense getting all smashed up at 2 a.m., when there's no one around to get the message. Rush-hour traffic is best.
Every day there must be complete and utter disruption on the roads during rush hour.
The insurance companies will ultimately be eternally grateful to you. You'll be getting a letter that says something like this:
Dear Brave and Selfless Driver:
Global International Assurance and Fidelity Investment Corporation would like to thank you for doing your part in reducing the number of highway accidents by contributing to the Click and Clack "more accidents" policy. As such, you have been enrolled in the "Basically Wonderful Person" Hall of Fame.
As a company-and a corporate world citizen-Global will be forever indebted to you for your selfless acts which will ultimately make the world a better place. It is individuals like yourself-people who think not of their own safety, but for the long-term "good" of humanity-who make it worthwhile for me to get up and go to work each day.
Signed: J. Cheever Loophole (The president, who makes so much money that you can't count that high, of the company that owns all the real estate on the planet.)
PS: Due to the large number of insurance claims, your policy has been canceled, as of yesterday. Have a nice day.