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road sage

Pete Davidson and Chase Sui walk the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series' 65th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19 in Daytona Beach, Fla.Chris Graythen

Cars frequently collide with buildings, or at least more frequently than they should. Stories about cars hitting buildings and other stationary objects are constantly in the news.

There are the stories about the highway-closing, fatal multi-vehicle crashes, which are newsworthy because of the serious nature and impact to commuters.

However, there are other classes of crashes where no one is hurt.

These are novelties, dished out to the public as a distraction.

What makes a no-injury collision newsworthy? There are four main equations.

  • Celebrity plus any sort of non-lethal crash = a newsworthy “celebricrash”
  • Everyday person plus bizarre crash = news
  • Bad driver plus expensive sports car plus crash = news
  • Crash plus ironic twist = news

Comedian Pete Davidson, who is known for squiring around some of the most celebrated women in show business, was recently in a “celebricrash” when he drove his four-door Mercedes into a residence in Beverly Hills, Calif. Law enforcement sources told TMZ the 29-year-old former Saturday Night Live star was driving most likely at a high rate of speed with his girlfriend Chase Sui Wonders. Some time around 11 p.m., Davidson lost control, hit a fire hydrant and crashed into the side of the house. No one was injured. While the investigation into the crash is still under way, alcohol and drugs do not seem to have been a factor. No arrests were made. This was worldwide news because Pete Davidson did it.

Oddly enough, this is not the most Pete-Davidson thing Pete Davidson could have done. The most Pete-Davidson thing Pete Davidson could have done would be to crash into the house of a famous starlet, turn the accident into a “meet cute” and begin dating her.

Celebricrashes are evergreen stories, because there is a never-ending supply of celebrities crashing their cars.

If you’re nobody from nowhere, though, you only make the news if you crash your car in an unusual way. For instance, in August 2022, two cars involved in a five-car collision collided with a Toronto house and caused a gas leak. Seven homes had to be evacuated. This is bizarre. This is news.

Driving a sports car looks easy, as a lot of difficult things that require skill often do. There is a segment of the population who believe all you need to properly drive a Lamborghini or Maserati is money. Money helps, a lot, but you need to have experience driving such vehicles in order to master them.

That’s why items about inept luxury car drivers crashing their vehicles are a favourite of the news media. The car doesn’t even have to hit a building in order to qualify. We take satisfaction in seeing people with more money than sense total their expensive rides.

For example, there was the case of the Florida gentleman who bought a 2006 Heritage Edition Ford GT for US$704,000 but lost control and drove it into a palm tree. He explained to police that he was inexperienced with manual transmission. In a 2018 Toronto incident, a poorly driven McLaren 720 crashed into a parked Audi R8.

Not a crash, but still a damaged car, there was the 2013 story where a lawyer abandoned his Ferrari as an underpass in Toronto was quickly flooding. He had to leave the car because he had to fly to Ottawa for a motion, which he won. He now drives a Lucid Air.

Finally, there are crashes that are situationally ironic. They exhibit striking reversal of what might be expected or intended. For example, a car colliding with a stop sign would be situationally ironic.

On March 7, a Chevrolet Tahoe crashed into a Houston café called “Tout Suite” just as two podcasters were wrapping up a recording session for their show November Romeo. “It got so quiet in here,” said 22-year-old host Alexsey Reyes, seconds before the Tahoe crashed through the glass and pinned them to their table. No one was injured. Does a Tahoe crashing into a café called Tout Suite (roughly translated as “straight (right) away”) almost killing two podcasters count as situationally ironic? I’m going with yes.

Also on March 7, a driver in Vaughan, Ont. drove into a bakery. This crash would be heavy with irony if she was going to pick up a cake to celebrate getting her driver’s licence. That wasn’t the case, but she did reportedly leave the car and go next door to get her nails done.

I hope Pete Davidson is doing okay. Maybe be is shopping for a new Mercedes.