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Why Do Auto Experts Think the Words ‘Auto Crashes’ Are More Effective Than ‘Auto Accidents’?

Learn why auto experts think the word ‘crash’ is more impactful than ‘accident.’

The number one priority for government agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSA) is lowering the rate of accidents through safety regulations.

But, some safety experts believe that the words “car accidents” isn’t a strong enough deterrent, and that the words “car crashes” should be used instead to increase the urgency and seriousness about these incidents.

“Well, what you’re seeing is that there’s this psychological aspect when you refer to a ‘car accident’ versus a ‘car crash,’ stated Dallas personal injury attorney Amy Witherite of Witherite Law Group. “When you talk about an accident, it almost feels as if it’s something that just sort of happened without any real causality, but when you talk about a crash, it resonates in a deeper and more meaningful way. Our firm talks more about ‘wrecks’ because that’s exactly what happens in a car accident, it can wreck your life and change the trajectory of your future.”

In an article The New York Times wrote, car safety advocates express their desire to change the words ‘auto accidents’ to ‘auto crashes’ for some very specific reasons.

According to Mark Rosekind, the Administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):

“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen. In our society, language can be everything.”

Rosekind believes that because some type of human error or human behavior causes the majority of car crashes, changing the terminology will drive home the importance of safe-driving habits.

More importantly, the word ‘accident’ may have reached a saturation point, in which it has become nearly commonplace to hear about an accident and not really understand that it was more than likely caused by a human being.

Some States Take Action

For these reasons, state officials in Nevada recently implemented a law in which the word ‘accident’ was changed to ‘crash’ in every incident involving a passenger vehicle.

According to an article on, Meg Ragonese, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Transportation, stated:

“Really, the reason is to send a message that many car crashes are preventable,” Ragonese stated. “When someone makes a decision to drive drunk, distracted, impaired, or just drive negligently or aggressively, perhaps that is a decision. It’s not an accident.”

This action is similar to one taken by New York City officials in 2014 when they introduced a Vision Zero Action Plan to reduce the rate of car crashes in the city.

According to information on the site, “the City of New York must no longer regard traffic crashes as mere “accidents,” but rather as preventable incidents that can be systematically addressed. No level of fatality on City streets is inevitable or acceptable. This Vision Zero Action Plan is the City’s foundation for ending traffic deaths and injuries on our streets.”

And in fact, the Action Plan goes on to talk about ‘crashes’ rather than ‘accidents,’ trying to drive home the idea that crashes are more accurate than accidents, and may help spur more responsibility in drivers.

The departments of transportation in 28 states have implemented the language change from ‘accident’ to ‘crash,’ and some advocates are even trying to get media outlets to jump on board.

Jeff Larason, the Massachusetts Director of Highway Safety has been attempting to convince the Associated Press (AP) to be more specific about its use of the word ‘accident.’

In response, the AP recently announced that if “negligence is claimed or proven in a crash, reporters should avoid [the word] accident, which can be read by some as a term exonerating the person responsible.”

Whether the terminology change will have the desired effect on drivers remains to be seen, but the goal of these auto safety advocates is to use all available measures to help lower the rate of crashes which increased by six percent in 2016.

Keeping Your Life Running

With the rate of car crashes on the rise and the number of vehicle miles traveled increasing each year, it’s likely that there will be more victims that suffer serious injuries, and that’s the value of the team at Witherite Law Group.

With 20 years of experience as one of the leading personal injury law firms that serves major cities in Texas such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Katy, Houston, Austin and El Paso, the team of lawyers, investigators and support staff at 1-800-CarWreck is dedicated to keeping your life running after a car crash.

Whether it’s providing you with transportation to your medical appointments or providing financial assistance during this difficult time or helping you get groceries, we do the simple things that can make a huge difference after a car crash.

“Nobody wants to be in a car crash, but when it happens, we will do everything possible to get you back on track and keep your life running,” stated Amy Witherite.