Tuesday, August 21, 2012

No Accident

Transportation Alternatives of New York City recently posted a good article, No Accident, on the use of the term "accident" to describe a car crash. The word accident implies an unavoidable incident when in fact most car crashes have a cause that could be avoided, either speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving, etc.

The dictionary definition of accident is "a: an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance b: lack of intention or necessity : chance." While it may be appropriate to use the term in some cases, crash is a much better term. Fairfax police use that term when discussing bicycle crashes. However the press continues to use the term accident. In today's Post I searched for the term and the first article found, a summary of local traffic conditions by Dr Gridlock, contains 14 references to "accident" and none to "crash."

There is a subtle difference between the terms "accident" or "crash" and using the more neutral term "crash" is more appropriate in most cases.

From BikePortland.

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I saw a woman standing at the curb with your young daughter waiting to cross the street to Harris Teeter. "Let's be careful and watch for cars! We don't want to have an accident!" she said to the little girl.

I'm thinking... if a car hits the two of you on this stretch of low-speed street it's not going to be an accident.

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