That is what prompted this post.
According the Oxford Dictionary an accident is described as:
Noun – 1.) an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally. 2.) an incident that happens by chance or without apparent cause. 3.) chance
I will concede that according to some of that definition, an accident could be used to describe a crash. But, it truly is not unexpected, a crash never happens without apparent cause and chance? Please. I believe this definition was never meant to be used to describe a collision.
Using the same Oxford Dictionary a Collision is:
Noun – an instance of colliding
And a Crash is:
Verb – (of a vehicle) collide violently with an obstacle or another vehicle.
Finally Wreck is:
Noun – 3.) a building, vehicle, etc. that has been destroyed or badly damaged. 4) a road or rail crash.
Using any of those definitions, Collision, Crash, Wreck is far more accurate than accident to describe the coming together of vehicle, bicycles, cars and people.
Whoose to blame:
Collectively we all need to get our houses in order to help prevent collisions and something as simple as changing our vernacular can be a benefit.
I believe that when we use the word accident we give people an ‘out’ of the responsibility that needs to be felt. Accident allows people the thought that what happened couldn’t be avoided; it was something that was unforeseen and unavoidable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The common denominator is human behaviour, which leads to human error. The worlds safest roadways can become filled with the bodies of dead and injured by the factor of disregarding simple safety and common sense rules while the worst roads travelled with awareness, adherence to laws, operating within safety guides for the conditions and alert behaviours can be injury and death free.
Now, I will also concede that law enforcement, media, insurance companies and government play a role in this mess. The reports that the police in Ontario file with the MTO are called Accident Reports. Most insurance company websites will refer to the word accident, media will report accidents as they happen.
The term accident became part of the vernacular of describing collisions and crashes somewhere along the way and has cemented itself there. We shouldn’t be using the word just because that is what people are used to hearing. We should be using the words that describe what it is. I think we can all be leaders by changing the words and helping to put blame where it belongs.
Accident makes the liability, blame and cause of collisions minimal at best and creates an escape clause for those responsible for the event. I saw an insurance company website recently that promoted a "responsibility project" that used the term accident all through their material. If any industry has a reason to put blame and fault where it belongs, it’s the insurance industry.
Collisions are predictable and preventable. Drive distracted, impaired, fatigued, aggressive, unaware or unskilled and you will cause injuries and or death.
Nothing on the roads just all of a sudden happens. There is a period where the event develops or unfolds and someone has done something wrong, illegal or unsafe.
Sure, you never get home and say to your spouse, “Wow, I just saw a huge collision.” You more than likely say accident. The person who was hit in a collision might say they were the victims of an accident, but the totality of the event is a collision that could have been prevented.
And yes, sometimes even the people who are hit can bear some responsibility. If you are driving aware and alert, you might see that a car is going to go through a red light, but all too often, we see that we have the perceived right of way and assume the way is clear for us.
So do us all a favour, stop using the word accident. Collision is more accurate, crash is more dynamic and wreck, well that’s just plain cool.
I have tried and tried and tried, but no matter what, I can’t think of one scenario that can allow for the word accident to be used. Can you? Let me know, have your say. Tell me I’m wrong or tell me I’m right. Leave a comment to share with everyone.
If you want to use the word accident, keep it to describing what children have when they are toilet training.