Every day in the UK people are being seriously injured or even killed by vehicles which apparently have minds of their own or are not under the control of a human being.

If you need confirmation of this fact, just open any local newspaper or visit any local news website.

Police Accident road sign

Yesterday’s Bristol Post carries such a story of a fatal collision in Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset.

Bearing the headline “Pensioner driving a mobility scooter dies after being hit by truck in Burnham-on-Sea“, this is a tragic tale, whose first sentence reads:

An 80-year-old man has died after being hit by a pickup truck while driving his mobility scooter in Burnham-on-Sea.

Further details are then provided by a police officer who confirms the absence of human intervention the other party involved in the incident. The officer is quoted as saying the following:

At about 11.50am, a Nissan Navara was travelling along Oxford Street and, having turned into Adam Street, was in collision with the man who was on his mobility scooter.

Nowhere in the article – short though it is – is there any mention of the Nissan Navara having a driver.

This phenomenon of vehicles without drivers but with a mind of their own is not confined to the West Country either.

A quick glance at the Express and Star website reveals that yesterday in the Bewdley and Stourbridge area, another crash occurred in which at least one of the vehicles was driverless.

The crash involved a black Ford Ka and a black Ford Fiesta.

The driver of the Ford Ka, an 18-year-old woman, sustained serious head injuries.

Why is such a peculiar style of wording used for press reports of road traffic collisions? Are the highways and byways of the country really full of driverless, out of control vehicles with a sadistic or psychopathic streak?

Probably not.

The likely explanation for this curious style of reporting is that the majority of road traffic incidents ending in collision and injury will involve either insurance liability or criminal liability or both. The wording used carefully avoids attributing any blame.

Furthermore, these collisions are often referred to as “accidents“. The last thing the majority of road traffic incidents are is accidental since the majority of them involve either driver error, as shown by the graph below.

So, are the country’s roads full of metal boxes intent on causing harm to humans? Unlikely, but they are full of frail, fallible humans in charge of potential killers.