Coluccio Law is making a change.
In honor of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday, November 20, I am sharing this change with the Legal Examiner community.
My law firm won’t use the word “accident” to describe preventable, predictable collisions.
There is a public health crisis on U.S. roads.
More than 35,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. last year.
That’s the equivalent of losing the population of a small city. If everyone in Lynnwood, Washington died in one year, there would be a massive public outcry. We would demand answers, accountability, and changes.
We have all become too accustomed to senseless deaths and injuries on U.S. roads.
This is a public health crisis. Coluccio Law does not accept the labeling of a public health crisis as a series of “accidents.”
Most “accidents” are preventable.
An “accident” is an event that is neither predictable, nor preventable. The majority of car crashes—and many truck crashes— are caused by a driver who is:
- Ignoring traffic signals;
- Making bad driving decisions; or
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Other crashes may be the result of bad road design, or unsafe vehicles.
These are predictable and preventable collisions: not “accidents.”
The word “accident” implies that no one is at fault.
Have you ever heard of a “plane accident”?
No. The common phrase is “plane crash.”
That’s because we know that planes don’t just fall out of the sky. Something goes wrong. It may be purposeful, or it may be negligent. But a plane crash is very rarely a “plane accident.”
Most people do not deliberately set out to crash their vehicles. But if someone is texting and speeding, are you really surprised when they crash?
Yet, we continue to refer to motor vehicle crashes as “accidents”.
It’s time change the way we think—and speak—about car crashes.
Driving a car is the most dangerous activity that most people do on a daily basis. Because we do it so often, many drivers are dangerously casual about it.
As the excellent project EndDD.org has reminded us, when you are behind the wheel, driving is your primary task. Not talking on your cellular phone, not eating a sandwich, or fixing your hair.
Every driver on public roads and highways has a duty to take driving seriously.
This is a change in thought, and in language, for many people.
Coluccio Law wants to help make that change.
Earlier this year, the Associated Press changed it’s policy on the use of the word “accident”. Now most major news organizations use “crash”, “collision” or “incident”.
Several state legislatures are removing the word “accident” from state laws.
Many police departments—including the Seattle Police Department—no longer use “accident” in their crash reports. Law enforcement reports are referred as “Traffic Collision Report” not “accident report”.
Coluccio Law is joining them.
Say “Crash” Not “Accident”
As plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers, we have all seen too many innocent people hurt by preventable collisions.
We have helped too many families through years of litigation after truck crash injuries and fatalities, pedestrian collisions, and other tragedies.
I ask my fellow members of the Injury Board—and readers of the Legal Examiner— to think about how you use the word “accident”.
Learn more at CrashNotAccident.com
*Attorney Kevin Coluccio has spent the last 30 years helping seriously injured people and their families through the civil justice system. His firm, Coluccio Law, practices throughout Oregon and Washington. A version of this post originally appeared on Coluccio-Law.com.
* Image of Lynnwood, Washington courtesy of flickr user michaelwm25.