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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This week - FIVE intentional crashes called "accidents"

We at the Crash Coalition feel strongly that media should avoid using the word “accident” in reference to nearly every roadway incident. 

We often hear pushback from people who claim that it can be called an “accident” as long as it’s not intentional.   We disagree, believing crimes like drunk, drugged and distracted crashes are not “accidents”. 

However, just this week there have been numerous examples of media describing intentional crashes as “accidents”.  Intentional accident is an oxymoron. 

From this week alone:

It's Time for the AP to Nix the Term "Accident"

The problem with the term “accident,” of course, is that it implies no one was at fault — that traffic injuries and deaths are just random, unpreventable occurrences. It’s part of a cultural permissiveness toward dangerous driving, which in turn contributes to the loss of life.
News media, however, have been slower than police to acknowledge the shortcomings of the term “accident.” While even NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, notorious for turning a blind eye to traffic violence, issued a statement that “the term ‘accident’ has sometimes given the inaccurate impression or connotation that there is no fault or liability associated with a specific event,” major press outlets like the New York Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer still tend to use “accident” as the default term for car crashes, even in vehicular homicide cases.
One journalism institution could change that. The Associated Press produces the preeminent style guide for journalists, a reference used by news outlets around the country and around the world. While the AP has acknowledged the inherent problems with the term “accident,” it has yet to issue clear guidelines for journalists that would prevent the imprecise term from tacitly excusing thousands of deaths every year.
Read the full blog post from STREETSBLOG USA here.

December 2013

Friday, April 10, 2015

1997 NHTSA Proclamation - "Crashes Aren't Accidents" Campaign

On June 8 1997, at the opening of the Lifesavers Conference in Orlando, Florida, Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D., with Secretary Rodney Slater kicked off a new nationwide campaign “Crashes Aren’t Accidents”. The Campaign was initiated by Adminstratror Martinez to encourage removal of the word “accident” from our vocabulary. The campaign kickoff featured proclamation (see photo) announcing the “Crashes Aren’t Accidents” campaign which was signed by the Administrator as part of the ceremony. In a short time, numerous organizations representing thousands of supporters joined the Administrator and literally “signed onto” the Proclamation as well.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why There's No Such Thing as a Car "Accident"

It's time to scrub the word accident from our reporting when it comes to car crashes and collisions

By Lorraine Sommerfeld

Originally published: March 18, 2015

When it comes to describing the behaviour of the drivers on our roads, we have a language problem. When you are speeding and hit something, you didn’t have an accident, you caused a collision. When you blow off a stop sign and T-bone someone else, you didn’t have an accident, you caused a crash. When you get behind the wheel drunk and drive into a tree, you did not have an accident; you got drunk and drove into a tree.
A lot of people believe that lack of intent means more than it does. Think about it: if I intended to jump the curb and kill you and your dog while I was sending a text, that would make me a sociopath, but the fact I didn’t mean to do it does not make it an accident.
Read full story here.  Scroll down to read the comments, they are very thoughtful.  

Our Crash Was Not An Accident

AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) Karth were killed in a Georgia truck crash on May 4, 2013.  

Since that tragic day they have been dedicated to preventing more deaths in truck-related crashes. Specifically, the Karth family is working to raise awareness about three issues related to truck safety: 

- Driver fatigue

- Minimum liability insurance levels
- Under-ride guards.

Go here to see their explanation as to why it's wrong to call their crash an "accident".