Drop The "A" Word - Not all crashes are accidents

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Road Peace - Crash Not Accident

In 2011, a London based charity for crash victims, Road Peace, made a call for policy makers and media to stop using the word ‘accident’ when referring to crashes.   

They made some progress and put together some very good resources, which we at the Crash Coalition: Drop the "A" Word, often refer to as we do our work in the US. 

This PDF, "It’s a crash, not an accident Ending a language of neglect and denial", is an excellent summary of the arguments for making this important change.  

  • ‘Crash’ does not presume innocence or guilt
  • ‘Crash’ does not excuse law breaking and risk taking
  • ‘Crash’ does not contribute to the discrimination against victims
  • ‘Crash’ does not aggravate the suffering of the bereave
  • ‘Crash’ does not undermine prevention efforts 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chicago blogger stops using the word "accident"

Steve DeLuca is a blogger and firefighter in the Chicago area.   He recently posted I Will No Longer Use My Cell Phone While Driving and Why You Shouldn't Either.  

To our great pleasure, he also noted that he has stopped using the word "accident" because of our work with Candace Lightner and We Save Lives.  

I have also stopped using the word “accident” to describe certain situations.  I saw on the We Save Lives site that an accident is something that cannot be reasonably foreseen or predicted and
 cannot be avoided. It just happens. A crash, on the other hand, is the result of choices
 made and risks disregarded. Most distractions while driving are by choice and are avoidable. Using a cell phone is a choice and a "crash" caused by one is not an “accident”.
Nice work Steve.   

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - Angered By Your Reporting - A letter from Candace Lightner

Below is a letter written by Candace Lightner to reporter Jim Schoettler.  Jim wrote this story: Serial DUI Driver Laments Over Death of 19 Year Old Jacksonville Man in which the word "accident" is used to describe this crime by both the defendant and the reporter.

Dear Jim, 
Like others who hear and read this story, I was incensed but not surprised that a multiple repeat offender was allowed to continue to drive until he finally killed someone. This was my story 35 years ago when I started MADD. I was dismayed by this driver's comments blaming everyone else for his problem, saddened by the tragedy that followed and angered by your reporting.  
Yes, angered.  
By calling this an "accident", you fed into his denial and lack of accountability and fostered the defense attorney's rhetoric that these tragedies can't be helped.
I am also the founder of We Save Lives the only Florida based international organization that deals with the 3 D's, drunk, drugged and distracted driving. I always use Florida as an example of media who do not use the word accident when reporting these crimes or crashes because the police here use the term crash when making their reports and the legislature substituted the word crash for accident years ago. They recognized that most crashes occur due to driver error and are not accidents in any sense of the word. 
The media insults the families of the victims and survivors when they use the "A" word and show bias in their reporting, since they are making the immediate assumption no one was at fault. I am expressing my disappointing not only on behalf of We Save Lives but also on behalf of the Crash Coalition: Drop the "A" Word with more than 52 national and international organizations and thousands of members who support our belief that use of the word accident is just plain wrong.  
These drivers make choices, those choices lead to crashes and crimes (impaired driving is a very serious crime) and those deadly and irresponsible choices should not be excused by calling them accidents. I hope in the future your reporting will reflect the feelings of victims and survivors and demonstrate more accuracy in reporting. I am located not far from Jacksonville and would be most happy to meet with your editorial board if you would like to discuss this further.  
Thank you for your time.
To his credit, Jim has responded to Candace's e-mail and put her in touch with his editors.  Candace has proposed a meeting to discuss their use of the word "accident".