Cars are not supposed to crash. That’s why it’s inappropriate to use the term “car accident” to refer to a crash. No one refers to “plane accidents.” It’s a plane crash. The word “accident” implies a lack of fault. As the saying goes, accidents happen. But vehicle crashes do not just happen; almost all vehicle crashes happen because a driver was negligent.
In Vermont, police officers who investigate car crashes prepare a Uniform Crash Report, not a Uniform Accident Report. Police agencies around the country have stopped using the term “accident” in their reports. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has banned the use of the term in official documents.
Insurance defense attorneys love the term “car accident.” Those attorneys are in the business of absolving negligent drivers of fault. If the negligent driver is not at fault then the insurance company does not have to compensate injured victims.
More than 30,000 people are killed each year in the United States in vehicle crashes. More than 2 million are injured. The vast majority of vehicle crashes, and the resulting death or injuries, are preventable. Crashes do not happen by chance and they are not accidents. Let’s hold negligent drivers accountable and use the correct terminology when talking about vehicle crashes.