Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt points out what he calls “the accidental journalist” — that is, traffic collision reporting that make vehicle drivers passive participants. If traffic collision reporting is to be believed, Cars, SUVs and minivans have minds of their own like the malevolent machines of Stephen King’s “Maximum Overdrive” that steamroll over bike riding children.
This report of a fatal traffic accident on Vasco Road in Contra Costa County, for example, is a prime example. Reporters Daniel Jimenez and Jose Carlos Fajardo describe the fatal crash thusly:
“A southbound 1999 Subaru driven by a man in his 20s drifted out of its lane and into the northbound lane of the two-lane road,” write the reporters. “The car then swerved right, back into the southbound lane, and tried to correct its course, but overcompensated, swerving again into northbound traffic.”
The driver of the Subaru is apparently just along for the ride as the car overcompensates after crossing into the wrong lane.
The accidental journalists then sum up with this penultimate paragraph: “Authorities are investigating what caused the Subaru to swerve into the guard rail.”
Can I suggest demonic alien control?
You’re right. This “the car hit the cyclist” stuff is pretty common. On the other hand, I think I’m seeing reporters use the word “accident” much less when describing collisions caused by moronic or negligent or reckless behavior.
I’d prefer if the standard was “collision” and “accident” was stricken from these articles. The word choice implies no fault and that is almost never the case.