When a car ‘crash’ isn’t an ‘accident’ — and why the difference matters

When a car ‘crash’ isn’t an ‘accident’ — and why the difference matters

An "accident" is, by definition, unintentional. We accidentally drop dinner plates, or send e-mails before we're done writing them. The word also suggests something of the unforeseen — an event that couldn't have been anticipated, for which no one can be blamed.

That second connotation is what irks transportation advocates who want to change how we talk about traffic collisions. When one vehicle careens into another or rounds a corner into a pedestrian — call it a "crash," they say, not an "accident."

"Our children did not die in 'accidents,'" says Amy Cohen, a co-founder of the New York-based group Families for Safe Streets. Her 12-year-old son was hit and killed by a van on the street in front of their home in 2013. "An 'accident,'" she says, "implies that nothing could have been done to prevent their deaths."

Earlier this summer, her group and advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives launched a campaign soliciting pledges to stop using the word. Language, they believe, shapes policy. The word "accident," they say, presupposes a conclusion that no one bears responsibility.

And when the language we use to describe a problem suggests none of its violence or even the possibility of root causes, then, advocates argue, we're not likely to seriously invest in designing safer streets or enforcing traffic laws.

Read the full article at Source: When a car ‘crash’ isn’t an ‘accident’ — and why the difference matters - The Washington Post