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How Do You Talk About Crashes: ‘Car Accidents’ Or ‘Traffic Violence’?

When a motor vehicle hits another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a cyclist, the results can be devastating. Victims may suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. More often than not, there is someone to blame.

Although a majority of crashes could be prevented, it is common to refer to these incidents as “accidents.” Recently, though, safety advocates have suggested that a better, more accurate description would be “traffic violence.”

Many people are starting to see the word “accident” as an unfortunate way of removing responsibility from a devastating event that could have been prevented, according to an article in the This wording can also desensitize people to statistics that show a grim trend, rather than reminding them of the fact that every driver personally plays a role in contributing to safety on the road.

When Is the Word ‘Violence’ More Appropriate?

Cars can be deadly weapons, but drivers are the ones in control of these weapons. Safety advocates argue that the word “accident” shields the driver from blame. They claim that “traffic violence” is a more accurate assessment of the situation.

They also say that removing the human element from crash descriptions does a disservice to victims. For example, safety advocates point out the difference in these two descriptions:

The second description, in addition to being more accurate, clearly identifies who was responsible.

But does changing the language actually change people’s perception? Turns out, it does. Studies performed by Texas A&M and Rutgers universities (published here on ScienceDirect) showed that even subtle differences in the way reports of traffic collisions were worded did significantly affect how test subjects apportioned blame.

Of course, the word “accident” is so ingrained in our vocabularies that it would take a long time to shift. For a real change to take place, public services like the media and law enforcement would need to make a concerted effort to change their vocabulary.

What to Do After a Collision

  • If you have been struck by a car, seek medical attention promptly.
  • The driver is required to stop and render aid, so be sure to get his or her contact information, license plate, drivers’ license number, and insurance information.
  • Also, you should collect contact information from anyone who witnessed the incident.
  • Take as many pictures of the scene as possible. This includes photos of your injuries.
  • Make sure to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your rights and legal options.

How Can Our Attorneys Help You?

The experienced trial attorneys at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., represent those who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. We firmly believe that these crashes aren’t just “accidents” and that victims deserve justice and compensation for their losses.

To find out how we can help, call us, fill out an online contact form, or chat with us live to schedule your free consultation.

Patrick A. Salvi

Patrick A. Salvi concentrates his legal practice in several limited areas primarily involving a trial practice in cases concerning serious personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and mass torts. Mr. Salvi has achieved record-breaking jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients, including serving as lead counsel in obtaining an Illinois record-high $148 million jury verdict and a Lake County record $33 million jury verdict.

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