Safety: drivers’ responsibility

Many people today believe that motor vehicle collisions, whether with other cars or trucks, bicyclists, pedestrians or inanimate objects like buildings, should never be described as “accidents.” They should always be called “crashes” or something similar, because someone’s always at fault. There are no accidents, they say; there is “traffic violence.”

We disagree that no car crash should ever be called an accident. When recklessness or gross negligence leads to a collision, that’s one thing; we avoid the term in those instances. But some crashes are just accidents. Does anyone believe the man who ran over his wife at a gas station in Maspeth last Saturday did it on purpose? Of course not. A couple of mistakes, leaving the vehicle in gear and stepping on the wrong pedal in an attempt to stop it, led to that fatal tragedy. Our hearts go out to him.

We have no such pity for the young punk police say blew through a red light on Woodhaven Boulevard at 91st Avenue a month ago, at 92 mph, killing a 56-year-old man going to work. That driver faces manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges, and we hope that if guilty, he gets a stiff sentence. His actions were no accident.

Hoping to avoid more such horrors, residents led by Ed Wendell staged a late-night protest last Friday, standing in the crosswalk and on the median at the site with signs telling drivers to slow down [see separate story in some editions or at qchron.com]. We hope their message got through. We won’t get safer streets by accident; drivers must always be responsible behind the wheel.