When vehicles collide – what is it called?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Accident. Collision. Crash. And even wreck.

You see the traffic reports on TV daily that use these words to describe what occurs on the roadways.

CBS North Carolina viewers have even weighed in on what to call these incidents.

Traffic reporter Ali Warshavsky wanted to know if there a difference between an accident, a crash and a wreck.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “a crash is not an accident.”

“By adopting the term crash, the general public would be advancing an important safety concept that is part of a major cultural shift toward reaching zero deaths,” the NHTSA said in a statement to CBS North Carolina.

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The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said they teach their cadets to use the words wreck, collision or crash.

“Nine times out of 10, if someone is involved in a motor vehicle collision, there was some type of contributing factor that lead to that taking place,” said Sgt. Michael Baker. “We do use the word collision. We try and stay away from the word accident.”

Data from the North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center shows in 2015, failure to reduce speed was the reason behind crashes involving 50,000 drivers.

A total of 33,000 were involved in crashes where someone failed to yield and more than 27,000 where involved where inattention was a factor.

Nonprofits like the National Safety Commission and Families for Safe Streets advocate for the word crash and there is even a petition to stop the use of the word accident.

However, when CBS North Carolina reached out to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, they offered this statement.

“The North Carolina Department of Insurance uses the term accident when referring to automobile collisions. This is simply our practice and we have no preference to what others prefer.”

In their auto insurance consumer guide, crash is not listed once but accident is used more than 50 times.

So no matter which word you prefer – there is likely an agency that backs your preference.

If you have a traffic issue you would like Warshavsky to look into – send an email to newstips@wncn.com.

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