Why we don’t say “car accident”

We have changed the language on Coluccio Law’s websites and blogs: here’s why we’re using car crashnot car accident.

There is a public health crisis on the roads

About 36,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2019. (The total number of fatalities for 2020 is expected to be even higher.)

That is the entire population of Lynnwood, Washington. Can you imagine if everyone in Lynnwood—or in Bothell, or Walla Walla—died in one single year?

There would be a massive public outcry. We would all demand answers, accountability, and changes.

We have all become too accustomed to senseless deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. We should not accept a public health crisis as a series of “accidents” just because we are used to it.

About 36,000 people die in car crashes in the U.S., every year. That is the entire population of a small city like Lynnwood.

Recommended Article: Who Pays for Car Damage in a No-Fault State

Most “car accidents” are preventable

An “accident” is an event that is neither predictable nor preventable. The majority of car 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 “mistakes” or “mishaps. And certainly not “accidents.”

“Car accident” implies that no one is at fault.  

Have you ever heard of a “plane accident”? 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 car crashes as “car accidents.”

Recommended Article: What Does No Fault State Mean

Changing the way we think—and speak—about car crashes

Driving a car 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 cellular phone, not eating a sandwich, or 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.

Our law firm wants to help make that change.

Back 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 “car accident” in their crash reports. Law enforcement reports are referred to as “Traffic Collision Report” not “accident report”.

We have joined them. 

Our blog has changed. Our website has changed.

The way we talk about traffic violence has changed.

It’s a Car Crash, not a “Car 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 car crashes.

We have removed it from our office communications.

We ask that you think about how you use the word “accident.” If you can, say crash  – not accident. 

If we can do it, so can you.


Since this blog was original posted, Coluccio Law has maintained that predictable, preventable crashes are not accidents.

Join us on Twitter to fight about it.

See our ad in The Stranger:

Coluccio Law-Personal-Injury-Not An Accident

Estimated speed was 85 mph at the time of the crash.

Witnesses say the driver was holding a phone.

A semi-truck was blocking the bike lane. 

Construction had closed the sidewalk.

Driving too fast for conditions.

Pedestrians in crosswalk.

DUI suspect.

Did not stop.


It’s time to change the way we think – and talk – about predictable, preventable car crashes.

Start now.#CrashNotAccident.

Image of Lynnwood, Washington courtesy of flickr user michaelwm25

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2 Responses

  1. Safety tips for traveling in a car is very necessary to follow them because they can avoid you from a fatal accident. Most of the people face too many difficulties while dealing with insurance companies or even repairing it. I was looking for some safety tips for an accident. I really find your post helpful.

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