This past July, a traffic safety activist group called Families for Safe Streets met in Manhattan’s Union Square to honor the thousands of victims killed in car collisions in New York City streets. Their goal was to draw attention to the word “accident” and how it relates to car collisions, arguing that it needs to be changed to car “crash” instead. Many of the surviving families of those killed in car crashes believe their loved one’s death was preventable and that labeling it an “accident” is wrong.
Each year, over 30,000 people are killed in the United States in car crashes. Most of these deaths are caused by drivers who were distracted or drunk, bad road conditions, reckless driving and/or speeding. If considered in this light, then these deaths were preventable. Mostly these collisions occur because of poor decision making on the part of one of the drivers.
Activists believe that by saying the “accident” instead of “crash,” we are unconsciously associating these collisions with the inevitable rather than the preventable. Families for Safe Streets hope to bring attention to this issue and the power behind words. They would like to see the media, government officials and the general public change their vocabulary in order to recognize the serous role negligence plays in most auto collisions.
Origin of the Misuse of the Word “Accident”
Back in the early 1900’s, vehicles were labeled killing machines and a driver was always held liable for any type of collision. Even if the car hit a pedestrian who ran out in the road, it was never considered the pedestrian’s fault. During this time, collisions were never referred to as “accidents.”
However, over the years this viewpoint changed – in large part due to lobbying efforts by automakers and auto industry groups. The auto industry essentially enticed the media to write articles that “shifted the blame for crashes to pedestrians — and almost always used the word ‘accident’.”
Since the 1960’s, various people and advocacy groups have tried to get the word “accident” changed back to “crash,” but it is difficult to get the new term to stick.
To read more about the history of these terms, check out our knowledge center article entitled “Why You Should Say ‘Crash’ Not Car ‘Accident’.”
How powerful is the word “accident” in your opinion? Do you think it changes people’s perspectives?
If you or your loved ones have been involved in a collision that you believe was no accident, contact an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney at Gilreath & Associates to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation.