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

Monday, May 23, 2016

It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead 

New York Times - Monday, May 23, 2016 - By Matt Richtel

CreditPhoto - Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press
Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers.Just don’t call them accidents anymore.That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.


  1. Selective definition use noted, consider the following specifically in terms of the numbers and the physics of the vehicles involved.

    Summary of Findings

    University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI): UMTRI is a leader in truck-related crash research. The highlighted study assigns driver factors to 8,309 fatal car-truck crashes as a proxy for fault.

    Car drivers were assigned factors in 81% of crashes versus 27% of truck drivers. The totals are greater than 100% because 10% of crashes assigned both the car and truck driver factors.Cars were the encroaching vehicle in 89% of head-on crashes, 88% of opposite-direction sideswipes, 80% of rear-end crashes, and 72% of same-direction sideswipes—obvious indicators of fault.

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): Tasked with “reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes,” NHTSA has undertaken extensive research on the topic. 
    Their 2003 study assigned causal driver factors in 10,092 fatalities.

    Cars were assigned driver factors in 91% of head-on crashes, 91% of opposite-direction sideswipes, 71% of rear-end crashes, and 77% of same-direction sideswipes Trucks were the encroaching vehicle in 98% of backing accidents (represents less than 1% of sample set)

    AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: The foundation’s mission is “to identify traffic safety problems, foster research that seeks solutions and disseminate information and educational materials.” This study, one of more than 250 projects they’ve funded to discover she causes of crashes, examined 10,732 fatal accidents.

    36% of car drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts 11% of truck drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): FMCSA is the primary regulating agency for the trucking industry whose stated mission is “to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.” 

    Two studies are noted below.

    Annual Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts: Cites driver factors in 6,131 car-truck fatal crashes

    • 2007: 85% of cars were assigned driver factors versus 26% of trucks 
    • 2008: 85% of cars were assigned driver factors versus 26% of trucks 
    • 2009: 81% of cars were assigned driver factors versus 22% of trucks

    Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS): A more thorough analysis of a smaller data set of 221 fatal accidents

    • 77% percent of cars were assigned with driver factors 
    • 23% of trucks were assigned with driver factors.

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