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MDOT Prefers Traffic "Crash" Not Accident Saying It's More About Assigning Responsibility Than Blame

Jan 15, 2020

Credit MDOT

The Michigan Department of Transportation is working to change the language used when discussing traffic incidents to "crashes" instead of "accidents."

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with MDOT Director of Communications Jeff Cranson about the reasons behind the change, and the impact they hope it has on Michigan drivers.


Cranson says the use of the word ‘accident’ to describe events that resulted in an injury or other misfortune dates back to the 19th and early 20th centuries.

He says referring to something as an ‘accident’ distances those involved from the responsibility of what happened.  It also reinforces the erroneous view that traffic crashes are something that occur outside of a person’s control.

Cranson says most traffic incidents are the result of driver behavior and should therefore instead be called ‘crashes.’

He says 95 percent are caused by human error, and this change in language in this era of distracted driving is more about signing responsibility than blame.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu