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

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

For Prosecutors Word Choice Matters: Crash vs. Accident

By Brandon Hughes (@alabamaTSRP)

Alabama Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor

As prosecutors, we must recognize that when we deliver an opening statement, closing argument or when we stand before a judge at sentencing - Word Choice Matters. Words have impact. Words evoke images and even stir emotions. Take for instance the words “Crash” and “Accident”. These two words are often used to describe the same event, but in reality each word conjures up a very different image. Any event involving a vehicle and a collision, whether another vehicle is involved or not, is frequently referred to as a traffic accident, one of life’s little mishaps.

Let’s consider this scenario. A car runs a red light and collides with another vehicle in the intersection. Just another traffic accident, right? Now, consider that the driver who ran the red light is driving 70 mph in a 45 mph zone.  Still an accident? Suppose that same driver also had a blood alcohol content of 0.14. Would your answer be the same?

An accident is something that cannot be reasonably foreseen or predicted and cannot be avoided. It just happens. A crash, on the other hand, is the result of choices made and risks disregarded. 

Read the full blog post here

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