Replace the Word 'Accident' With 'Crash,' Advocates Demand

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
replace the word accident with crash advocates demand

Human error causes most vehicle wrecks, so why is “car accident” still the go-to term?

A safety advocate-led movement is gaining steam to change the lexicon, the New York Times reports, with “crash” being the preferred word to replace “accident.”

With fatal crashes on the rise on U.S. roads, policymakers are joining the groundswell of voices calling for eradication of the word, which they say absolves blame.

“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,'” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head Mark Rosekind in a recent speech. “In our society, language can be everything.”

The state of Nevada, as well as New York City, San Francisco and other cities, have already passed laws to erase the word from police and insurance documents. Transportation departments in 28 states also avoid the word.

As of April, Associated Press news reports will use “crash” whenever driver negligence is proven or suggested.

While texting and rear-ending isn’t an act of God, roughly six percent of vehicle incidents can’t be attributed to driver error. A debris-caused tire blowout, storm-tossed tree limb, bolting deer or mechanical breakdown aren’t a driver’s fault any more than a bird strike is a pilot’s fault.

Still, it doesn’t look like advocates want to make a distinction. The word “crash” doesn’t assign blame, but “accident” removes all doubt as to driver fault. Expect the new blanket term to slowly replace the other.

Still, there’s pushback to the movement. The New York Times report points to a debate that raged on a Facebook group for traffic reporters.

“What is being solved by having this debate?” one post read. “What injustice are we correcting?”

[Image: Mark Turnauckas/ Flickr ( CC BY 2.0)]

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  • Furiouschads Furiouschads on May 23, 2016

    In Italy, they are in-chee-den-tee. They view them as caused by a decision.

  • -Nate -Nate on May 24, 2016

    GREAT comments ! I always like a chuckle . . about thirty years ago this came up and that time the word was ' Collision ' . . I doubt this will take but it'll be entertaining . . -Nate

  • Jeff S No it should be based on the violation and the fine on speeding should be based on how much above the speed limit the violator is going. Anything 5 mph are below should not be ticketed.
  • Lou_BC TTAC is once again light on details. Why let facts interfere with the news? "Wiklöf has a history of having a lead foot. He received a $106,000 (95,000 euros) fine in 2013 and a $68,000 (63,680 euros) citation in 2018, according to the newspaper.""Wiklöf controls 100 percent of the Wiklöf Holding company that runs over 20 businesses in the logistics, construction, helicopter services, real estate, trade, and tourism sectors.  According to its website, the company had a turnover the equivalent of $264 million (247 million euros) in 2020 and an operating profit of $11.7 million (11 million euros)." No sympathy for this dude.
  • Fahrvergnugen Internet says average age of cars in US is 12.5 years old. All of mine are older. Getting rid of emergency broadcasting is about as stupid as outlawing ICE.
  • Wheatridger The AM radio in my 2017 Ford PHEV works just fine, BTW.
  • KOKing This doesn't seem to make much sense, unless the intent is to replace the (ancient) 4Runner, as they're platform mates as it is, and both from a functional and market standpoint, the 4Runner and Prado seem to be the same thing tailored to the US vs ROW.