“Why I rarely use the word accident in my public speaking and never during my former career in traffic reporting…”
A Crash Is Not An Accident
I believe, along with many others, “changing the way we think about events, and the words we use to describe them, affects the way we behave”. Motor vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable events. Continued use of the word “accident” promotes the concept that these events are outside of human influence or control. In fact, they are predictable results of specific actions.
Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect, and avoid collisions. These events are not “acts of God”; but predictable results of the laws of physics.
The concept of “accident”; works against bringing all the appropriate resources to bear on the enormous problem of motor vehicle collisions. Continuous use of “accident” fosters the idea that the resulting injuries are an unavoidable part of life.
“Crash”, “collision”, “incident”, and “injury” are more appropriate terms, and should be encouraged as substitutes for the word “accident”.
Within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US DOT/NHTSA), the word “accident” will no longer be used 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 their 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.
EMPLOYERS LOSE MORE WORK TIME OF EMPLOYEES BECAUSE OF THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN TRAFFIC CRASHES AND THE INJURIES AND FATALITIES THAT RESULT THAN FOR ANY OTHER REASON! That’s why I love speaking at company safety conferences and briefings.
This material by SAN DIEGO SAFE COMMUNITIES, a City of San Diego injury prevention project, in cooperation with the California Network of Employers For Traffic Safety.
If you’d like to arrange for Monica Zech to speak to your group or company safety meeting, please call her at (619) 441-1615 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org