Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His latest book, Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation, is a wide-ranging look at how transportation dominates our daily existence.
He answered questions for the New York Times on issues related to bike commuting.
In your book, you never use the word “accident” to describe a crash. Why?
They aren’t. Most occur because of choices drivers made. If you’re chatting on your iPhone while driving, that’s a choice. If you get behind the wheel after a few drinks, that’s an “on purpose.” We probably neuter the language because who, at some point, hasn’t been speeding or run a red light?
In the 1920s, The New York Times referred to what we now erroneously call “accidents” as “motor killings.” There was more outrage then.
At the time, there was a nationwide push to have speed governors placed on cars. These were mechanical devices that kept them from going at high speeds. That effort was pushed back by the car industry. It was never deployed in any substantial way.
I’m adding this book to my to-read list.