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Cars > Soupy’s Garage > Blog > Accidents banished from Highway Code


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Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Accidents banished from Highway Code

By Soupy

An article in the Times of May 12th 2007 observed that the word "accident" has been removed from the latest edition of the Highway Code and replaced by "collision", "crash" or "incident".

The reason appears to be that describing something as an "accident" the driver feels less responsible as they are considered unavoidable, while using these alternative words encourages drivers to see the incident as a fact for which someone is responsible.

Some motoring groups have, however, claimed that the change will "foster a blame culture and encourage the prosecution of drivers for casualties that they had no intention of causing."

Some police forces refer to RTCs (road traffic collisions) rather than the more common RTA (road traffic accident.)

* Do you agree that the choice of vocabulary in this case reflects the way we view road traffic incidents?

* Is there a neutral term we can use?

* What other examples can you find of terminology which colours a listener's attitude towards an idea, a thing or an event? Consider the difference between "freedom fighters" and "terrorists" or "chubby" and "obese". Is this the same as political correctness (crippled / handicapped / disabled), (black / negro / colored), (chairman / chair / chairperson)?

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 3 of 3

Toicontien’s Profile Photo
Sep 13, 2007 at 9:43 am
Originally posted by mohrt This sounds like a bunch of political hogwash.

I second that thought too. biggrin image Seems like more work than it's worth, and certainly won't prevent people from being stupid on the road. My dad always had a great idea. Give every driver a dart gun that uses suction cup darts. Every time you see someone be a complete moron, shoot their car with your state-issued dart gun. If a cop sees a car driving around with 3 or more darts stuck to it in one day, the person gets pulled over and their license is cut up on the spot.

My dad's theory was if you piss off three people in one day with how you drive, you shouldn't have a license. smile image
Toicontien’s Profile Photo
Sep 12, 2007 at 10:42 am
It's interesting you brought this up. I was just watching the movie "Hot Fuzz" and they said the same thing as the Times did. I think it might have to do with the auto insurance laws of the state. In Michigan we've got no-fault insurance, so in many ways it doesn't benefit anyone to assign blame. Most traffic collisions are not accidents. Somebody usually screws up and is someone's fault. As to the legal ramifications of calling them collisions? That will either be hashed out in court, or already covered by auto insurance laws.

In Michigan as a result of the no-fault insurance laws, I don't think you can sue someone for an auto accident. Calling an accident a collision in Michigan would most likely have no legal ramifications, and if a suite was brought up in Michigan courts, the judge would probably throw the suite out on grounds we have no-fault insurance. Civil cases might be different.

Also, most states pretty much assign blame to both drivers. If I am at a stop sign and it's my turn to go, but you go anyhow and hit me, technically you're to blame, but nobody technically has the right of way. The person who doesn't have the right of way must yield the right of way. It just gets messier from there.

In short, a journalism professor probably put it best: "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."

Two cars collide on the road. It's a collision.
mohrt’s Profile Photo
Sep 12, 2007 at 8:50 am
This sounds like a bunch of political hogwash. An accident really is accidental, unless they collided on purpose, is it not? And after any accident, the person at fault is determined and appropriate action is taken. I don't think the person at fault is going to have any more or less feeling of guilt by changing the name from "accident" to "collision", it really makes no difference. All this does is creates confusion to a term we are already familiar with.

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