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What caused this accident? This is a regular and familiar question.

Once there has been some major occurrence with serious impact on people, assets and the environment, the next best thing from onlookers is to ask what caused it. Well truth is try as you will, there's never been just that single cause of any accident, be it at home, work, play or in the community. What usually happens is that a chain of seemingly small and inconsequential and unrelated events gang up over a space of time to explode in that single forceful reckoning commonly referred to as an accident. What caused it?

The real failing is us not recognizing what is ahead after the series of inconsequential, unrelated events or subtle warning signs that intrude on our set daily routine. Take a simple case of a vehicle, dripping brake fluid from a pinhole leak in the hose connecting the reservoir to the chamber. Most drivers will be aware of it happening but will fail to grasp its ultimate importance to their own safety. Or better still, some will be willing to take a chance because of the perception of the risk posed as of low value in terms of consequence, so they defer any corrective action to ‘till some other time’, or until when the leak becomes a rivulet of copious, steady flow requiring frequent stops to top up instead of curing the problem once and for all.

Then comes a day when they may forget to do the ‘needful’ or out of haste, do not screw the reservoir cap firmly back on because they are ‘running out of time’. You know, like they’re late for that all important appointment or meeting that could change one’s life forever? No sooner than they’re on the highway cruising along and feeling good with great expectations, the inevitable happens as they come face-to-face with a life-threatening danger and everything turns sour and blurry. Great dread descends to eclipse the hitherto peace and serenity of a few seconds gone by. What do they do now?

The terror-stricken driver flattens the brake pedal to the vehicle’s floor in horror but it surges forward uncontrollably, regardless. Heck, what's going on? Oh dear God. Bang! the vehicle slams into the next one ahead, or runs into people on the road shoulder, or smashes into some fixed object with disastrous consequences. Then people stop to ask in utter disbelief: "What caused this accident?"

Want an honest answer? You, my friend the driver! Why? The driver was presented with several opportunities to prevent this accident by correcting the troublesome leak permanently but failed to do so and in effect postponing the evil day. Unsafe situations or conditions will not go away by themselves unless someone takes the necessary corrective or remedial action to bring it about.

It is important to note that there are no single causes when it comes to accidents. They’re usually as result of a combination of factors or unrelated events. That's why accidents repeat themselves from time to time, not because anyone desires to see them do so BUT because people simply repeat the same mistakes over time.


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