Motor vehicle collision injuries and fatalities are soaring at a rate not
seen in 50 years. To help fight this deadly trend, some safety advocates
think we should stop calling them accidents. A growing number of safety
advocates are campaigning to change the way we talk about car crashes
because they say calling them accidents trivializes the single most common
cause: Risky behavior, like speeding or texting while driving.
“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God
made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a recent
driver safety conference at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Research by the nonprofit National Safety Council show deadly crashes rose
by nearly 8 percent in 2015 over the previous year, killing about 38,000
people. Almost all car crashes happen because of risky behavior like speeding,
texting while driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
distracted driving and other risky behavior. Only a very small percentage
of crashes are caused by vehicle malfunctions, weather and other factors.
A growing number of safety advocates believe that the rise in deadly crashes
can be explained in part by apathy. People know they shouldn't engage
in risky behavior such as speeding, or texting while driving, but they
do it anyway because they're in a rush, or some other excuse. Changing
the way we talk about car crashes is meant to make people think about
the consequences of their actions as opposed to the implicit "nobody’s-fault"
attitude that the word accident conveys.