MDOT encourages use of word “crash” over “accident”

Michigan

FILE – In this July 1, 2016 file photo, drivers work their way out of Dallas during rush hour. The U.S. government’s road safety agency says traffic deaths fell by a small amount for the second straight year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed the 2.4% drop partially to technology in newer vehicles that can prevent crashes. The agency says the downward trend is continuing into 2019. First-half estimates show fatalities down 3.4%. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

LANSING (WLNS) – The Michigan Department of Transportation is encouraging people to use the word, “crash” over the word, “accident” when references traffic crashes.

“An accident cannot be reasonably foreseen,” Spl/Lt. Derrick Carroll, public information officer for Michigan State Police (MSP) Seventh District said. “A crash is the result of choices made and a disregard for safety. That’s why we in law enforcement call it a traffic crash and never an accident.”

When a traffic crash is referred to as an “accident,” it implies that no one takes responsibility for the consequences. Calling an incident an accident also implies that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it.

Most crashes result from distracted, drugged, or drunken drivers or unsafe or illegal actions, such as driving too fast for wet or icy conditions and failing to stop for stop signs or signals. A few of these are the result of equipment failures, animals or medical emergencies.

As a result, emergency medical personnel, firefighters, and other first responders are changing how they talk about crashes as well.

The word “accident” was used in the early 1900s by companies who wanted to avoid being held liable for workers injured on the job. In the 1920s, automakers and insurers began using it as well in an effort to put the blame onto others, but it has since come to be used as an equivalent term for “crash” to absolve drivers as well.

Several organizations and agencies nationwide are supporting the #CrashNotAccident campaign, such as Vision Zero Network and We Save Lives.

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