Safety analysts are beginning to consider how the public talks about vehicle
crashes in order to raise awareness about common distracted driving cases.
Word choice, experts claim, impacts how we view concepts, shaping our
understanding and acceptance of social trends. Now, many Departments of
Transportation (DoT) across the nation are using this theory to change
the public’s perception of vehicle crashes, hoping more drivers
will pledge to be responsible on the road.
Accidents & Negative Public Perception
In total, DoT’s in 28 states are avoiding using the word “accident”
when referring to a car crash, believing that crashes are preventable
and mostly caused by a driver's lack of responsibility.
car accident, on the other hand, suggests the cause of the crash was out of the driver’s
control and could not be averted. This removes any implication of guilt,
regardless of what the drivers were doing moments before the impact. MoDOT
has used "crash" instead of "accident" since 2014.
The Major Cause of Accidents in the US
Research shows what many drivers already know: distracted driving is a
frequent occurrence in the United States. A 2015 Erie Insurance survey
found drivers admit to many forms of distracted driving, including texting,
brushing teeth, and changing clothes.
In another study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims
drivers who use handheld devices has continued to increase since 2013
despite changes in state legislation and national campaigns against distracted driving.
Why Using “Car Accidents” Is Problematic
Linguists believe word choice manipulates meaning as the interpretation
of a word is far more complex than a black-and-white dictionary definition.
Therefore, if “crash” were to replace the common term “accident,”
such as MoDOT’s conscious word replacement, perhaps more drivers
would be influenced on a broader scale to actively monitor their driving
habits, viewing themselves as agents for safe and responsible driving.
And for Missouri, this couldn’t come at a better time.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the number of fatal car crashes
is up 7% from last year with human error to blame for 94% of all fatalities.
Just as MADD was able alter the public’s perception of drunk driving,
perhaps a simple turn of phrase can help Missouri drivers actively practice
Injured? Get in Touch with Our Missouri Personal Injury Lawyer
Our team at Aaron Sachs & Associates, P.C. have
over 75 years of combined legal experience. We are committed to helping our clients who have suffered a serious or
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We serve clients throughout Missouri, including Springfield, Columbia,
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