Collision or Accident?

There is a quiet presumption tied behind the word “accident”. This presumption does not exist when the word “collision” is used.  The difference, though subtle, is significant. In fact any shift in any pre-conceived notion is both subtle and significant. The talent is identifying preconceived notions. Pre-conceived notions are certainly used to manipulate us and have us “want” things we never knew we “needed”.  Have some fun with these next two photographs. They are playing with your preconceived notions and beliefs.

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Imagine you have been involved in a collision involving two cars. Police attend and provide you (one of the drivers)  a piece of paper to write down what happened. You do this without much thought. The officer has been so kind. This piece of paper is later used to determine accountability. In this case….you are assigned the balance of responsibility and therefore… you are issued a ticket. That piece of paper, where you simply wrote out what happened, was your statement. Your statement was then used to justify giving you the ticket.

YOU FEEL BETRAYED. Your innocent grade school perception of police did not seem to resonate with this result! (Note: this innocent perspective may also reflect a demographic not recognized by all!) The person that did not get the ticket may feel justified, even vindicated! Rest assured betrayal will be shared, that feeling of vindication is not likely to last. You see, the feeling of betrayal is also rampant in the court experience.

Regardless of when betrayal arrives… create a self-protecting mantra. It is a bit on the extreme, but it is what you decide. YOU DECIDE NEVER TO TRUST POLICE AGAIN.

What you may not understand is the police are doing what they do…they investigate. They are there to keep the peace and will do that through inaction, influence, criminal charges, and incarceration. Those decisions are all driven by the laws our culture creates.

Embedded in those laws are systems of cause and effect which require statements at collisions. That statement is then is sent through a gauntlet of destinations that cull information for other purposes. That information could affect how troublesome intersections are restructured. It might be used to measure costs tied to injuries and seatbelt usage. It could even inform some of the targeted enforcement police do, such as the Seatbelt Campaign.

So what does that mean back at your “accident” or “collision” and how does that relate to the pedestrian and/or shadow question? Well it is all about the presumptions we don’t even notice we carry.  At a collision a police officer will need/require a statement. That police officer will also be required to determine the balance of fault. If it was defined as an accident fault would not be required. Seeing as it is defined as a collision there needs to be proof supporting the determination of fault. That proof is evident in the ticket the officer gives one driver. Fault is required to be found because this is a collision. It is not an accident.

The real story….

I first experienced this betrayal on December 24, pre the year 2000. I was operating a police cruiser and I was involved in a collision. A supervisor showed up and I was required to give a statement.  I was not presented with any choice in that matter and had to work overtime to provide that statement. The supervisor used silence and preconceived notions in order to foster a freely provided statement but choice was never presented as an option. This was going to leave a sour taste in my mouth. That taste became even more tart when I imagined a citizen might have in this situation.

You see, I fell into the category of being a police officer and I got caught in my own preconceived notions about our system and provided a statement. I was also providing a statement knowing I worked in a para-military environment. That meant there was no choice when someone senior told to you do something.  What happened next was the early start to a sorry country song though after hearing singer Sarah Burton tell her sorry story that inspired one of her songs I am sure I was not in a bad enough state…yet….

I returned to work after my holidays, only to be greeted by a letter from the faceless powers industriously working the mechanisms running the ivory tower. That faceless ivory tower informed me I was “found guilty” based on my statement.  I had already had a miserable experience on the day of the offence whereby I wrote a statement while being serenaded on the radio with seasonal music and tidings of joy. The return to work was now equally interesting with the New Years top 100 songs countdown and a finding of guilt. All this happened and my sad country song of a story conjured another verse.

That verse was a number of months later when I attended court to address the matter. I was willing to plead guilty, but wished consideration when it came to the cost. Police are often considered the fat cats in the system and this “fat cat” was early on in the career, making just over the poverty line.  I needed some compassion from the court and I knew the court was a moody beast, at best. As I arrived someone told me (information unconfirmed) that the Justice of the Peace used to be a powerful MPP’s chauffeur. That information does not need to be confirmed for it is a possible situation. That possibility made my brain hurt when it came to our society and our laws. I pled guilty and paid a greater fine than I had hoped. The Justice of the Peace and the mood of the court struck the gavel and I left …. wondering.

Lesson Learned

Things Are Not Always As They Appear

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The shadow comes from me, situated on the top of a city roof. 

The pedestrian appeased my sense of play and stopped… momentarily.


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