Advocates push for using ‘crash’ instead of ‘accident’ when referring to roadway incidents


By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub

Posted Jan. 13, 2020

Is it a traffic “accident” or “crash?”

That question, according to officials, is no longer up for debate.

Safety advocates say the language we use to refer to roadway incidents is outdated.

Recently, a push by officials across the country is asking transportation partners, law enforcement, emergency response, and the media to make an effort to describe traffic situations as crashes, incidents or collisions instead of accidents.

Locally, the Michigan Department of Transportation says it is working to change the language used when discussing traffic crashes.

“We realize it may seem like a small matter but using the word ‘accident’ reinforces the erroneous view that traffic crashes are something that occur outside of a person’s control,” said Jeffrey D. Cranson, MDOT director of communications.

MDOT says that even though the word “accident” is a deeply ingrained habit for many, it is important to make the change to a non-biased term.

“Using the words ‘crash’ or ‘collision’ does not attribute blame but also does not remove responsibility from those involved,” Cranson said.

Almost all crashes stem from driver behavior like drinking, distracted driving and other risky activity, according to safety officials.

Additionally, about six percent are caused by vehicle malfunctions, weather, and other factors.

Preliminary estimates by the nonprofit National Safety Council show deadly crashes rose by nearly 8 percent in 2015 over the previous year, killing about 38,000 people.



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