I attended the community meeting hosted last evening by Jay Schenirer, Steve Hansen, and the school district, called as the result of the recent fatality and severe life-threatening injury on Freeport Blvd. I’ll write more soon about the meeting itself, but for today, a comment about use of the ‘A’ word, accident. Every public official that evening, with the exception of Jennifer Donlon Wyant, used the word accident. Some of them repeatedly, with Ryan Moore, the Interim City Traffic Engineer, being the worst offender. Many of these uses were made while standing in front of the Vision Zero slide that states “Vision Zero ~ a traffic safety philosophy that rejects the notion that traffic crashes are simply “accidents,” but are preventable incidents that can and must be systematically addressed.” Oh, the irony.
Not the time to go into a detailed explanation of the harm that using this word causes, but you can check out http://droptheaword.blogspot.com, or #CrashNotAccident on Twitter. Basically, the common understanding of the word in traffic violence conversations is to excuse motor vehicle drivers (and engineers) of responsibility for their actions, implying that nothing could have been done, when in fact many things could have been done.
So, a modest proposal. Every time a public official uses the ‘A’ word, they make a contribution of $20 to a local transportation advocacy organization. Eventually, people will cure themselves of using the word, but in the meanwhile it will be an important source of income for nonprofits working to overcome the bias inherent in use of the word, and the underlying windshield perspective that accepts traffic violence as inevitable.