Traffic deaths have dramatically increased over the past 50 years as a
result of human error. As a society, we have gotten comfortable with referring
to car crashes as “accidents,” but now, grass-roots groups
and safety advocates are campaigning to change this mindset. Calling collisions
“accidents,” they say, ultimately trivializes the human acts
behind these tragic incidents.
According to Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, “language can be everything” in our society.
“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like ‘God
made it happen.’” According to Merriam-Webster, an accident
is defined as “an unexpected happening” that is “not
due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured.”
By acknowledging this semantic change, we can be more aware of our responsibility
behind the wheel. Speeding, drinking, and behind-the-wheel distractions are some of the
most common reasons behind many fatal accidents – in fact, deadly
car crashes were responsible for killing 38,000 people in 2015. By refusing
to call these incidents “accidents,” society as a whole –
including policymakers – can shake themselves from the “nobody’s
fault” attitude that the word suggests. Calling a crash an “accident”
implies that no one need be held accountable for their actions, when the
reality is that negligence costing a person’s life should not go
Nevada has already enacted a law that changed the word “accident”
to “crash” in a number of instances where the word is mentioned
in state laws, such as in insurance and police reports. San Francisco
and New York are also taking similar steps. At least 28 state departments
have also moved away from using the term “accident” when referring
to traffic collisions. This is to avoid having a reader misconstrue the
cause of the collision and mentally exonerate the driver of all responsibility,
thereby normalizing mass death in this country.
According to Amy Cohen, the founder of the campaign “Crash Not Accident,”
drivers who walk away from deadly wrecks should not be presumed innocent
just because they lived to tell their side of the story.
It’s No Accident: Advocated Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead (New York Times).
If you have been hurt in a car wreck, you may be entitled to compensation
from the at-fault driver. Get in touch with a Washington, DC attorney
at Simeone & Miller, LLP for a free personal injury consultation: