Accidents vs. Collisions

Good news out of New York — the NYPD is officially changing the way they refer to bicycle and pedestrian crashes. Instead of calling them “accidents” — with the hazy culpability that suggests — they’re now officially using the more neutral and factual word “collisions.” It seems like a small thing — except that it implies a sea change in the way they’re thought about. A great quote from the article:

The vocabulary of the road traffic injury epidemic helps to explain the neglect. While child deaths from, say, malaria are viewed as avoidable tragedies that can be stopped through government action, road traffic deaths and injuries are widely perceived as ‘accidents’ – unpredictable events happening on a random basis to people who have the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The vocabulary is out of step with reality. Road traffic fatalities and injuries are accidents only in the narrow technical sense that they are not intended outcomes. They are eminently predictable, and we know in advance the profile of the victims. Of the 3,500 people who will die on the world’s roads today around 3000 will live in a developing country and at least half will be a pedestrian or vulnerable road user who is not driving a car. When it comes to road traffic injury, the future is not just predictable – it is also changeable. Far from being the consequence of forces beyond human control, road traffic death and disability is in large measure the consequence of government action and inaction.

Read the whole story here:

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/03/whats-word-nypd-changes-way-it-talks-about-traffic-deaths/4935/

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