The awful predictability of deaths on roads can be avoided
Our RSA expert...
Published 14/09/2016 | 02:30
What happens on the road is predictable. Across the millions of journeys made every week, we know a lot of what's going to happen.
The statistics that we compile week-on-week and month-on-month keep on appearing.
Every month, we know that 550-700 people are likely to be charged for driving while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
We know that another 2,000-3,000 will be handed a Fixed Charge Notice for mobile phone offences. And every month, around 15 people will probably die on the road.
There are always a really quite predictable number of arrests, crashes, injuries and fatalities. I find it strange. The thing we find most distressing about these "cold, hard statistics" is that every single one is probably avoidable.
The same number of people all made a decision to get into their car after taking alcohol or drugs.
The same with mobile phone offences. All made the conscious choice to use their phone and endanger others.
And then there are the 15 or so, who, because of some action of their own or someone else, die on the roads every month.
But we aren't statistics. We're not numbers; we're complex people with dozens of others who love us, and whose lives are smashed when something awful happens to us.
Each and every one of those 'numbers' had myriad different things leading up to the decision which would change lives. There are no two identical reasons why someone was caught using their phone behind the wheel, for example.
The problem with statistics is that they aren't particularly human, and they can feel distant.
When you hear these numbers, you dissociate from them and think to yourself: "It'll never be me." Those 15 people are always someone else. Until they aren't.
The more that you behave like a foolish mindless statistic, the more likely you are to become one.
When you're on autopilot, distracted, impaired or just not thinking - that's how you become a statistic.
It's when you reach for that drink or your phone starts ringing beside you.
Statistics don't think. People do.