My fault, your fault?

Posted on July 10th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

My fault  your faultWe consider what you can learn from being in a collision – even if it wasn’t your fault.

Driver misjudgment is a major contributory factor to road traffic collisions. Take a few moments to think of any crashes you were involved in. And if you haven’t been involved in any crashes,then think about those near-misses most of us encounter from time to time. Consider what happened, what you could do differently if it happened again. Were the  collisions similar in nature? Were you stressed or pushed for time? Were the collisions both because of inattention or deliberate risk-taking? Think about all your driving experience, all the skills you have amassed, your ability to judge speed and control your vehicle at that speed. That’s what you CAN do. But is it what you DO do? Identifying errors means you can take steps to prevent them happening again.

Admitting lapses in concentration means you can deal with problem distractions and focus solely on the journey. Owning up to violations requires a deliberate effort to tell yourself: “I owe it to myself and my family to confront my risky behaviour.” That may be a big step, but if it keeps you – and those you love – safe, then it has to be the right choice for you. At the same time, follow some simple but practical steps. Get to you know your vehicle, understand its safety features and take some time to ensure that you have the best possible all-round visibility. Find ways to improve your observation by making more frequent mirror checks.

Expect the unexpected. If you improve your anticipation, then there will be far fewer nasty surprises for you on journeys. Remember, the most skilled drivers use these advanced skills to keep them out of situations that would require those skills!

What about if it was someone else’s error or risk-taking that led to a collision or a near-miss – and it wasn’t your fault at all? You would of course have to be very unlucky indeed to be a victim on several occasions without being able to identify some sort of common thread. If it was purely down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, then we hope you have not been seriously affected by the inevitable stress these incidents bring.

But think back over what happened each time. Was there anything you could have done that might have lessened the consequences of the other driver’s actions? Maybe not. But what were the common factors? Were you in a position of danger where it might have been very hard for the other driver to see you? Were you adopting the ‘moral high ground’ and insisting on asserting your right of way, or your priority at a junction, roundabout or width restriction, even if that greatly increased the risk of a crash?

A good driver always has the goal of reducing risk – and that always comes above the need to show we were ‘in the right’.