Drop The "A" Word - Not all crashes are accidents

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

FMCSA Letter to Editors and Correspondants

A Crash is Not an Accident

A crash is not an accident.
Changing the way we think about events and the words we use to describe them affects the way we behave. Motor vehicle crashes occur "when a link or several links in the chain" are broken. Continued use of the word "accident" implies that these events are outside human influence or control. In reality, they are predictable results of specific actions.
Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect and avoid collisions. These are not Acts of God but predictable results of the laws of physics.
The concept of "accident" works against bringing all appropriate resources to bear on the enormous problem of highway collisions. Use of "accident" fosters the idea that the resulting damage and injuries are unavoidable.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Drop the 'A' Word library - Articles on the issue (Pro and Con)

Organizational Support:

Media – Blogs:

Counter Arguments:

**** If we've missed anything, please let us know.  We'll add it.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead 

New York Times - Monday, May 23, 2016 - By Matt Richtel

CreditPhoto - Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press
Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers.Just don’t call them accidents anymore.That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Day of Remembrance for Road Victims - Social Media Support

Below is a list of organizations who have express support for the November 15 Day of Remembrance for Crash Victims by using #CrashNotAccident 

National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS)
Delaware DMV
Vermont DMV
Michigan DOT
Texas DOT
Georgia DOT
Tennessee Governors Highway Safety Office
National Safety Council
National Safety Council – Arizona
Vision Zero Massachusetts 
Vision Zero Network
Vision Zero Trans
Vision Zero NYC
Walk San Francisco
Merrimack Valley TMA
Livable Streets Boston
Bike Jersey City
Adelaide Cyclists
The Mark Wandall Foundation
Transportation Alternatives
Brooklyn Spoke
Bike Houston
NY Families for Safe Streets
Kostelec Planning
America Walks
Walkable Princeton
Pedal Love
Zero Fatalities Nevada
Vision Zero Austin
Boston Cyclists Union
Biking Minneapolis
Bicycling Magazine
Savannah Bicycle Campaign
Georgia Bikes
We Save Lives
Cycle Nation UK
Green Lane Project
Family Cities
BC Safe Communities
I Drive Safely
Walk Toronto
Cycle Toronto
Bicycling Monterey
Hang Up and Drive
Maria’s Message
Decide 2 Drive
The Conor Lynch Foundation
Washington Bikes
Project Yellow Light
WISE Safety Wisconsin
Walk Boston
StreetsBlog New York
Raleigh Moves
Safe Routes PNW
Portland Police Department
Drive Easy App
Road Crash Victims Foundation
Bike San Gabriel Valley
Because of Casey
Bike Miami Valley
America Walks
NE Seattle Greenways
Seattle DJC
Canada Walks
Safe Way Right Way
VA Bicycling Federation
Open Streets Cape Town
ATS Road Safety
It’s Your Driver
Safe Active Mobility
Cyclenation UK
Make Queens Safety
Bike Portland
Committee for Taxi Safety
Bike Walk Tulsa
911 Driving School
Family Cities
Safe Driving Scheme
Walk Bike Oakland
National Foundation for Teen Safe Driving
Defensive Driving Arizona

Monday, October 26, 2015

The definition of "accident" - a closer look.

We hear a lot from reporters who defend use of the word “accident” by saying that no-one crashes intentionally.  But let’s look at the definition.    When you Google “accident definition” this is what you get.

an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.
an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause.

So lets break this down.

Unexpectedly – Drunk, drugged, negligent, and criminal driving crashes are not unexpected.   A driver may not intend to crash, but the resulting crashes, and the tragic results, are wholly predictable. 

Apparent or Deliberate Cause – The causes of most crashes are apparent.   There is little doubt when a driver is drunk, drugged, distracted and/or speeding as to the cause. 

In 2013 alcohol-impaired driving crashes accounted for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.  Approximately 10% of motor vehicle fatalities result from Distracted Driving.  Some data indicate that as much of 90% of crashes result from human error, or poor decisions.  These are not “accidents”.

“Accidents” are rare.  Crashes are common. 

There certainly are “accidents”, but reporters make a mistake when they use the word “accident” as a ubiquitous description of all crashes.   By definition an accident is an “act of god”.  A tree falling on a car, or a crash resulting from a mechanical failure could be defined as “accidents”.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What Traffic Reporters say about the word "Accident"

Posted by Jeff Larason

Prior to working in roadway safety I spent many years as a Traffic Reporter.    I worked with DOT’s around the country setting up 511 systems and overseeing Traffic Operations Centers.  In those jobs I used the word “accident” literally tens of thousands of times.   It never crossed my mind that the word was wrong. 

I am a member the Traffic Reporters Group on Facebook.  There have been several discussions within the group regarding whether it’s correct for traffic reporters to call crashes “accidents”.  There are smart, thoughtful, professional reporters with opinions on both sides of the subject.  Below is a snapshot of some of discussion.

Note - I’ve removed identifying photos and names from the commenters and edited for brevity.  I’ve tried to keep the spirit of their comments, and hope I have represented their statements accurately. 

MW - Prove it WASN'T an accident.  Accident is perfectly fine. It's part of the lexicon.

KB - Even though someone is drunk or drugged they still do not intend to get in a crash. Therefore it’s still an accident. Neglectful yes, but not intentional. Every incident is unintentional.  It is simply part of a traffic reporters vernacular and has been forever. Everyone listening knows what it means.

MH - If you want to call it a crash or collision. Go for it. I won't tell you you're wrong.  But don't tell me I'm wrong to call it an accident.  It is what the average person in the world calls it and that's my audience. It is the most conversational term for what frequently happens on the road.  It is, also, by definition, the correct term about 99.99% of the time.  In the common vernacular of a listening audience it's correct 100%.  Your issue with it is that you ascribe all this deeper meaning to it that I don't think has any basis in provable fact. Calling an accident an accident when it ultimately involves a DUI or texter or whatever other poor behavior does not, tell people it's okay to engage in said behavior. It does not excuse those that do and I can't possibly see that anyone would think it does because they hear me say whilst driving about in the Traffic Tracker.

‪Further, the main point of my argument falls into the "common parlance" arena. I'm speaking to audience who cares about getting from point A to point B and the word they would use is accident.

TK - We always called them accidents or incidents. We had no idea who or what caused them.

EG - Anyone with half a brain knows that "accident" means (in this context) "at least one car collided with something".  

SS - The listeners don't care what we call it. They care if we have the backup wrong.

EG - For the purposes of a traffic report, I'd call them accidents, since there usually isn't the time (or need) for details. If I were writing a piece for a newspaper, website, or blog, on the other hand, I might even avoid using terms like accident or crash altogether.

SS - Now if you can prove in the moment that a crash was intentional, you have a point in not calling it an accident. But in the moment of reporting we often don't have that luxury.  And in the end the listener only cares if it's still there in their way and will they be late. They really don't care what we call it, and the word accident is a recognizable term to them..

ND - I got an angry phone call at one point.  The woman on the other end was upset because she said the term "crash" was insensitive.

PS - It's an accident until proven otherwise.