Magazine article The Spectator

When Is an Accident Not an Accident?

Magazine article The Spectator

When Is an Accident Not an Accident?

Article excerpt

When is an accident not an accident

FATAL ERROR: CONFESSIONS OF AN ACCIDENTAL KILLER by Thomas Munch-Petersen Short Books, L7.99, pp. 188, ISBN 1904095453

As Thomas Munch-Petersen points out in this scrupulously apologetic case history, his was the sort of disaster that could happen to anyone - anyone who drives at normal speed in the fast lane of a motorway and allows himself to be distracted.

The melodramatic subtitle of his book is misleading, for there is nothing confessional in the author's manner. Profoundly regretful that his accident caused injury and fatalities, he insists, however, that an accident is an accident, not a crime. Causing death by dangerous driving may be punished by up to ten years in prison. But how does the law distinguish between dangerous driving, driving without due care and attention and plain bad luck? He suggests that the opinions of the police and the decisions of judges and juries are arbitrary and sometimes possibly unjust.

He was driving along the M1 near the Pinxton junction at 70 miles an hour, when he reached over into a pocket of his jacket on the seat beside him for a packet of mints. A police video recorded there and then, by chance, proves that he turned his head from the traffic for 1.96 seconds. That lapse of concentration was long enough to cause a crash with a lorry and two other cars, injury of the lorry driver and three deaths, agonising remorse, a legal process that took 14 months, though he acknowledged culpability, and, eventually, a sentence of three months in prison. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.