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

Monday, July 6, 2015

There Are No Accidents

I learned as a rookie newspaper reporter that there are no accidents in life — none involving cars, trucks or motorcycles, anyway.

“Accident” implies an event that’s beyond our control. Because reporters cannot know what’s in a driver’s mind, we can’t say something is an accident.

Newspapers that shunned the A word reported on automotive mishaps, incidents and collisions. Blow-dried TV announcers and traffic reporters shouting over helicopter noise favored the more vivid noun crash.

Copy editors weren’t the only sticklers for the right word to describe highway misfortune. Years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tried to expunge the concept of traffic accidents.

By eliminating the word in speeches, news releases and publications, it hoped in 1997 to re-educate people that car wrecks weren’t acts of God but predictable and preventable events.

The agency also launched a “Crashes are not accidents” campaign. From time to time, other groups have taken up the cause, but people hang onto the idea of tragic highway accidents. Now, though, while we can’t stop the lethal combination of speed and distance, we at least buckle our seat belts.

Read the full story from the Bristol, Virginia Herald Courier here




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