"Car left road and hit tree"
"Car hit bridge and rolled"
"Car crossed centre line"
Factual, sure. Did the car leave the road? Yip, it sure did.
But it wasn't alone...!
I think reporting accidents like this isn't very helpful.
It can increase FEAR without:
1) Encouraging us to take responsibility for keeping our own cars on the road
2) Helping us understand what really went wrong and how to avoid making the same mistakes
When a helicopter or a plane crashes, reports are published so that all in the air industry can learn the cause and take steps to prevent a similar or bigger accident.
When there's a road accident, we usually hear that the Serious Crash Unit is investigating. Often that's all we'll hear about it again, except for a blanket statement perhaps, reminding people to "slow down", or "wear your seatbelt".
I wonder if, with sensitivity of course, more facts from road accident reports could be made public, as for air accidents. It's all very well sharing road safety messages like:
"Buckle up", "Slow down", "Keep left", "Don't text and drive", "Drive Sober", "Don't drive tired", "Share the road"
Important messages of course and I take every opportunity to share them myself, as you know! :-)
BUT we're human beings who make mistakes, often more than one at a time, and accidents, like all human activities, never occur in a vacuum:
* You think "oh, I never drive drunk" until your sober driver ditches you at a remote pub.
* You're a considerate driver who "always keeps left", until that dickhead tailgates you.
* You "never text and drive", until you keep forgetting to text before you leave.
* You "always wear your seatbelt", until your cool new 'friends' don't.
* You "always drive for the conditions", until you're running late in a cloudburst.
* Ok, ok, you speed quite a bit, but you're "a good driver".
My feeling is, that if more detailed reports about the very human mistakes, circumstances and factors causing and aggravating serious road accidents were published in the mainstream, we might have a better chance to relate to the real people involved, understand their stories and learn from their mistakes.
We might actually think "shit, that could happen to me", or "what would I have done in this situation?"
Road safety messages, then, might not be just for other people. And they might become a more meaningful reminder for all of us.
More so anyway than reading only things like:
"The car left the road and rolled [...] a reminder once again to all drivers and passengers to always wear your seatbelt".
Buckle up, Buttercups! What do you reckon?