I don’t know whether the term accident has a new-found popularity, or whether I’m just more sensitive to it the last week, but it seems like everywhere I look in the news media, there it is, the term accident. I’m talking here about use for motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
The term accident implies that no one was at fault, it just happened, an act of nature. But nothing that occurs on the roadways is an accident. Someone caused it, or someone contributed to it.
#NotAnAccident (yes, I realize that this twitter tag gets used for other things, but I haven’t thought of a better one)
I have been using the term crash in place of accident for several years. However, several people have commented that crash may be more appropriate to a single user situation, as in, the car crashed into a tree, or the bicyclist crashed on slippery pavement. The word collision implies two or more users, as in, a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle or pedestrian. But I’m not yet entirely happy with those definitions either. Incident has also been suggested, but that seems to clinical to me, almost a valueless opposite of accident.
Here are some links:
- Was that an accident or a crash? (Arizona Bike Law 2014-12-01)
- After Criticism, Police Change Policy and Begin Investigating More Traffic Crashes (New York Times 2013-03-10)
- It’s Time for the AP to Nix the Term “Accident” to Describe Car Collisions (Streetsblog USA 2013-12-11)
- Motor vehicle crash versus accident: a change in terminology is necessary. (PubMed)
- Crash Not Accident (RoadPeace)
- Terminology debate: crash versus collision (Steven Can Plan 2012-05-18)