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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Associate Press Statement on Reporters Use of Word "Accident"

The AP Stylebook is the bible of style and usage in the US news industry, including newspapers magazines, broadcasters, bloggers and PR firms.  Reporters, editors and others use the AP Stylebook as a guide for grammar, punctuation and practices of reporting.

In 2013, Stylebook Editors answered a question from a user about the use of the word "accident". 

Q: I've always written traffic "crash", not "accident" because the latter seems to imply fault.  But increasingly I see people calling crashes accidents.  Does it matter?

A: Yes, avoid terms that might suggest a conclusion.  

This supports our statement that the word "accident" should only be used when an investigation has determined the circumstances of an incident.  Until intent, or lack of criminal behavior has been determined, reporters should not use the word "accident" because is states a conclusion.  

Certainly there are "accidents".  However, assuming that every crash is an "accident" is insulting to victims and survivor of crashes. 

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