The #CrashNotAccident movement asks us to stop referring to vehicle collisions as “accidents.” A great example of why it’s the wrong term to use comes from my local New Bedford Standard-Times, which used “accident” three times in describing a recent incident downtown.
Police say 38-year-old Heather Gonsalves:
- Got drunk, then got in her car despite having a suspended license
- Hit a parked car
- Hit an 85-year-old woman
- Left the crime scene
- Came back
- Almost ran over a firefighter
- Refused to stop for a police officer
- Went the wrong way down a one-way street
- When police finally stopped her, she was still drinking in the car
Whoops! An accident! Like when I dropped an egg in my kitchen this morning!
Why is it so important to use the right language? From CrashNotAccident.com:
Before the labor movement, factory owners would say “it was an accident” when American workers were injured in unsafe conditions.
Before the movement to combat drunk driving, intoxicated drivers would say “it was an accident” when they crashed their cars.
Planes don’t have accidents. They crash. Cranes don’t have accidents. They collapse. And as a society, we expect answers and solutions.
Traffic crashes are fixable problems, caused by dangerous streets and unsafe drivers. They are not accidents. Let’s stop using the word “accident” today.
Despite it all being totally accidental, for some reason police are charging Gonsalves with:
- Leaving the scene of personal injury
- Operating a car under the influence of alcohol
- Negligent operation of a motor vehicle
- Operating after suspension of license
- Failing to stop for a police officer
- Leaving the scene of property damage
- Assault with a dangerous weapon
- Possession of an open container of alcohol on a public way
There’s one small step our legislators could take in the right direction. Many driving laws and Registry of Motor Vehicles documents refer to “accidents.” Why not change that language to crashes, collisions, etc.?