Here at our Phoenix personal injury law firm, the majority of our cases are motor vehicle collisions. We avoid using the word “accident” because it falsely implies that the collision occurred without fault and was unpreventable. Everyone has heard someone say "accidents happen" while shrugging their shoulders helplessly. In fact, most car crashes are not accidents. Most occur because of driver negligence and are entirely preventable incidents.
On June 8, 2014, a campaign to remove the word “accident” from our vocabulary when speaking about motor vehicle collisions was kicked-off at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Conference in Orlando, Florida. Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D., explained that the campaign is striving to change our thinking about automobile crashes because the word “accident” tends to explain these events as “acts of God” rather than occurrences that are within human influence and control.
Campaign materials include these items: 1) a four-page booklet which contains a letter from Administrator Martinez concerning the campaign, a copy of the Proclamation announcing the campaign, a sample article for newsletters, and a page of the "Crashes Aren't Accidents" logo in various sizes ready for use; 2) a brochure which lists 15 proven ways to prevent crashes and avoid injuries; 3) Stickers, plastic bags, paper clips and lapel pins with the "Crashes Aren't Accidents" logo. These items are available from the Office of Communications and Outreach, Marketing and Media Division.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US DOT/NHTSA) will no longer use the word "accident" in materials published and distributed by the agency. In addition, NHTSA is no longer using "accidents" in speeches or other public remarks, in communications with the news media, individuals or groups in the public or private sector.
Two other U.S. Department of Transportation agencies, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) joined NHTSA in endorsing the goal to eliminate "accident" from the agencies' vocabulary. In this manner, attention will be focused on causes of crashes, and what can be done to prevent collisions and the resulting injuries. Looks like a step in the right direction.
Jay Ciulla is a Phoenix personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who handles car crash cases.