A recent study suggests that changing the language used in reporting vehicle accidents could help reduce the number of accidents that happen overall by making the issue much more personal. 

The study suggests that using terms such as “vehicle accident,” or “car accident,” or “traffic accident,” is not personal enough. The report finds that this use of language transforms something deeply personal to those involved into a faceless statistic in the minds of readers, and suggests to them that two inanimate objects came together through no one’s fault.

When the roads are full of self-driving cars, maybe then you can say two cars had an accident. Until that happens, it is people, not vehicles that crash into each other. Someone is at the wheel of every vehicle, and the decisions they or another driver take, are what causes a collision.

The report found that using terms such as “crash” and “collision” instead of “an accident,” and referring to a “driver crashing,” rather than “a car crashing,” makes the situation more real to people reading about it. Putting the people back into the situation allows people to think, “That could be me; I should be more cautious when I drive.”

If a car hits you, there is usually someone to blame, someone at fault, someone who made a decision, which led them to crash into you. While it was an accident in the sense that the driver did not intend to crash into you, something they did or did not do caused the wreck to happen and they should be held responsible for any damage or injury that you suffer.