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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Photo - The difference between a crash and an accident


+Karen Bowman has this great illustration that highlights the difference between an "accident" and a "crash".  

Tree hits car = Accident
Car hits tree = Crash

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NHTSA Study - Critical Reasons for Crashes

94% of Crashes are Not "Accidents"

This recently released survey from NHTSA supports the contention that human error/behavior is responsible for the vast majority of crashes.   

  • 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.

The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), conducted from 2005 to 2007, was aimed at collecting on-scene information about the events and associated factors leading up to crashes involving light vehicles. Several facets of crash occurrence were investigated during data collection, namely the pre-crash movement, critical pre-crash event, critical reason, and the associated factors. A weighted sample of 5,470 crashes was investigated over a period of two and a half years, which represents an estimated 2,189,000 crashes nationwide. About 4,031,000 vehicles, 3,945,000 drivers, and 1,982,000 passengers were estimated to have been involved in these crashes. The critical reason, which is the last event in the crash causal chain, was assigned to the driver in 94 percent (±2.2%)of the crashes. In about 2 percent (±0.7%) of the crashes, the critical reason was assigned to a vehicle component’s failure or degradation, and in 2 percent (±1.3%) of crashes, it was attributed to the environment (slick roads, weather, etc.). Among an estimated 2,046,000 drivers who were assigned critical reasons, recognition errors accounted for about 41 percent (±2.1%), decision errors 33 percent (±3.7%), and performance errors 11 percent (±2.7%) of the crashes.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Roger Lanctot Drops the "A" Word

Automotive Writer Drops the "A" Word

Crash Coalition Founder Candace Lightner had a talk with Roger Lanctot about his use of the word "accident".  

There is a hard core of campaigners for vehicle safety in the U.S. – railing against the conditions that enable a daily toll of nearly 100 highway fatalities in this country. Within this community of individuals and organizations there are no references to traffic accidents, only crashes.

I recently ran afoul of one of the most outspoken leaders of this fragmented movement, Candace Lightner. Candace is president of WeSaveLives and founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Candace expressed her displeasure with me after I referred to “accidents” in a blog about California legislation ( - Assembly Bill 1264) for the creation of a database for the notification of the next of kin of crash victims.

Twitter: @rogermud   

Friday, March 6, 2015

What’s the harm in calling it an “accident”?

This is something we hear quite a bit when we try to get people, especially reporters to stop using the word “accident”. 
  • “It doesn’t make any difference.” 
  • “So what?”  
  • “People don’t think about what the definition is.”

It's our belief that the prevalent overuse of the word "accident" puts people in the mindset that they are not responsible for the actions in crashes.   It's not just drunk, drugged or distracted drivers.  It's the rest of us who make errors in judgement or thoughtless decisions that lead to crashes.   We all need to take responsibility for our actions, no matter how small if it led to a crash.  The word "accident" allows us all to deflect that responsibility.  

Scott Marshall wrote this excellent post on this blog The Safe Driver some time ago.  It’s a MUST read.

If you believe these are accidents then they will happen to you. If you change not just the word but the mentality to ‘crash’ or ‘collision’, then you’re making the switch to believing they are preventable.

Scott Marshall - The Safe Driver

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The International Association of Chiefs of Police

29 years ago, the IACP established a policy regarding the word “accident”. 

"IACP join the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration in their efforts to eliminate the use of the word “accident”."

IACP was a national leader in recognizing that using the word “accident” to describe a crash “work(s) against bringing the appropriate resources to bear on this problem which represents a societal loss equivalent to 2.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. 

Almost 30 years later, there is still work to be done as many states and cities continue to have "accident reports" and "accident reconstruction teams".   

Read the full text of the IACP proclamation below.