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Movement away from the word "accident" in crashes gains traction

Motor vehicles of various shapes and sizes are a common mode of transportation for people in both Canada as well as the United States. While occupants of these vehicles often get to their destination without any issues, when they collide with another vehicle or object, the outcome can be devastating. As a result, there is an ongoing effort to make roads safer to prevent these crashes.

When a crash does occur, it is often referred to as an accident. While this language may be commonplace, there is a growing movement to change the way in which these incidents are discussed. Those in favor of making a change point to the way in which the word “accident” trivializes the role human error often plays in these incidents. The word implies no one is at fault for the collision.

The movement is catching on in some places. In addition to some states in the U.S. changing the language of their transportation laws, several months ago the Associated Press made changes to its policies regarding the use of the word. Now, when negligence has either been proven as a contributing factor to a crash, or alleged to have been a cause, use of the word will be avoided.

When someone files a lawsuit against a party that is allegedly responsible for a crash, determining whether human error—and if so, whose—played a role in the incident, is a key to a successful outcome. Whether a change in the words used in society to describe a crash would make a difference is unclear.

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