MDOT Explains Why It’s ‘Crash’ And Not ‘Accident’
It might be something you've wondered. Why are vehicular collisions referred to as "accidents?" The Michigan Department of Transportation explains why they say "crash."
Before the Associated Press issued a style change for terms describing transportation collisions, a 2015 Vox column covered the evolution and history of the terms, observing that we don’t say "plane accident." We shouldn’t say "car accident" either. Yet, the CEO at Boeing did just that in his Oct. 29 Congressional testimony. The background also includes how jaywalking became something worthy of citations from law enforcement. As Vox explains, "At the time, the word 'jay' meant something like rube or hick - a person who didn't know how to behave in a city. So these groups promoted use of the word jay walker as a way to shame people who didn't obey traffic laws."
The Vox piece gets right at the issue:
The two groups behind the recent campaign — Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets — argue that the term "accident" makes it seem like crashes are inevitable, rather than preventable. In a subtle way, it normalizes the crash and discourages us from looking more deeply into their causes — whether alcohol, reckless driving, or bad street design. In a sense, reflexively saying "accident" is implicitly throwing up our hands in despair, rather than trying to fix the underlying problem.
With winter just a little over a month away, these terms become a little more timely. Either way, turn your headlights on, and slow down, even if you do drive a giant SUV or pickup truck.