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It was not an accident, it was a crash – unintentional is not the same as unavoidable.

Two things collide on the road.  But that was an accident, right?

Nope.  It was a collision.  Or a crash.  Or an incident.  As we recently argued in an article on driver training, use of the term “accident” implies something happened that nobody could have prevented, like the sun rising or rain falling.  And that’s simply almost never the case.

Leading road safety experts and driver training have for some time adopted the low-risk style of teaching which focuses on the driver’s view of risk rather than their physical skills, viewing crashes as avoidable incidents.  Acceptance of the fact that something could have been done to avoid the crash is the first step to actually avoiding future crashes.

Now there’s campaigns to spread the word – RoadPeace and Crash Not Accident.  And because it’s 2015, there’s a Twitter hashtag of #crashnotaccident too.

Here’s a few sample tweets:

t1 t2 t3

Veronica makes a very good point, one that is shared by aviation professionals across the world.  And here’s a sample of the thinking from researches on the topic:

Death and injury on the world’s roads is arguably the single most neglected human development challenge.

The vocabulary of the road traffic injury epidemic helps to explain the neglect. While child deaths from, say malaria, are viewed as avoidable tragedies that can be stopped through government action, road traffic deaths and injuries are widely perceived as ‘accidents’—unpredictable events happening on a random basis to people who have the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

–Dr Kevin Watkins, The Missing Link: Road Traffic Injuries and the Millennium Development Goals, Commission for Global Road Safety 1 (2011)

 And from the crashnotaccident.com site:

Before the labor movement, factory owners would say “it was an accident” when American workers were injured in unsafe conditions.

No more accidents on the road, let’s call them for what they are.

Unintentional is not the same as unavoidable.


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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper