Why we say “crash” instead of “accident”

 We have updated the language on TruckingWatchdog.com and Coluccio-Law.com to use the word “crash” instead of “accident”.  Here’s why we want to use crash, not accident.

There is a public health crisis on the roads.

More than 35,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. last year.

35,000 is the entire population of Lynnwood, Washington. If everyone in Lynnwood—or in Bothell, or Walla Walla—died in one year, there would be a massive public outcry.

We would demand answers, accountability, and changes.

We have all become too accustomed to senseless deaths and injuries on U.S. roads.

This is a public health crisis. Coluccio Law does not accept the labeling of a public health crisis as a series of “accidents.”

Most “accidents” are preventable.

An “accident” is an event that is neither predictable, nor preventable. The majority of car crashes—and many truck crashes— are caused by a driver who is:

        • Distracted;
        • Inattentive;
        • Speeding;
        • Ignoring traffic signals;
        • Making bad driving decisions; or
        • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Other crashes may be the result of bad road design, or unsafe vehicles.

These are predictable and preventable collisions: not “accidents.”

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Personal Injury Lawyer Help Graphic ColuccioLaw

The word “accident” implies that no one is at fault.

Have you ever heard of a “plane accident”?

No. The common phrase is “plane crash.”

That’s because we know that planes don’t just fall out of the sky. Something goes wrong. It may be purposeful, or it may be negligent.

But a plane crash is very rarely a “plane accident.”

Most people do not deliberately set out to crash their vehicles. But if someone is texting and speeding, are you really surprised when they crash?

Yet, we continue to refer to motor vehicle crashes as “accidents”.

It’s time change the way we think—and speak—about crashes.

Driving a vehicle is the most dangerous activity that most people do on a daily basis. Because we do it so often, many drivers are dangerously casual about it.

When you are behind the wheel, driving is your primary task.

Not talking on your cellphone. Not eating a sandwich. And not fixing your hair.

Every driver on public roads and highways has a duty to take driving seriously.

This is a change in thought, and in language, for many people.

Coluccio Law wants to help make that change.

In 2016, the Associated Press changed its policy on the use of the word “accident”.

Now most major news organizations use “crash”, “collision” or “incident”.

Several state legislatures are removing the word “accident” from state laws.

Many police departments—including the Seattle Police Department—no longer use “accident” in their crash reports.

Law enforcement reports are referred to as “Traffic Collision Reports” not “accident reports”.

We are joining them.

Saying Crash Not Accident

We have seen too many innocent people hurt by preventable collisions.

We have helped too many families through years of litigation after truck crash injuries and fatalities, pedestrian collisions, and other tragedies.

Coluccio Law won’t use the word “accident” to describe preventable, predictable collisions.

We have removed it from our office communications, our website, and from this blog.

We ask that you think about how you use the word “accident”.

A version of this post originally appeared on Coluccio Law’s primary website.

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you from Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets. None of our loved ones (sons, daughters, niece, father, mother, husband, grandparent) were killed in an accident. Bus driver made unsafe left turn and struck five people in a crosswalk (daughter killed), drunk minor hit two in the bike lane (son killed), impatient driver passed around car stopped for pedestrian and hit the pedestrian (son killed), texting driver hit another vehicle head on and killed self (daughter), speeder T-boned vehicle (husband killed), commercial truck made right turn over bike lane (niece killed), drunk driver flipped vehicle with six occupants (son killed). And more horror stories.

    Thank you for all you do for families like ours.

    Kristi Finney Dunn,
    Mother of Dustin
    Founder OR/SWWA Families for Safe Streets

  2. Thank you for your comment, Kristi. It is important to acknowledge that these tragedies, and others like them, could have been prevented.

  3. Crashes are a result of bad driving decisions and we can avoid them by being careful at all times and being a defensive driver.

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