Words hold power.
The words we choose to use should be intentional and not vague. In 2018, the Northern View is choosing to use crash and collision over accident when writing stories on vehicle crashes.
Using the word collision, rather than accident, to describe when a car crashes into a pedestrian at a crosswalk, or a vehicle collides with another vehicle, is more specific. The word ‘accident’ suggests that ‘whoops, that was a random mistake’ implying that no one was directly at fault.
Some may argue that accidents do happen to drivers or pedestrians. But according to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, in a report released Dec. 2017, language shapes policy in action and inaction.
“A philosophy of acceptance of the ‘inevitable and unfortunate’ is being replaced by an attitude of challenge to change what is predictable and avoidable,” the report states, which is why we’re changing the way we report on vehicle crashes.
Statistics Canada data shows that Prince Rupert’s impaired driving rate is nearly triple the national average, and up 25 per cent from 2015 to 2016, a statistic that needs to be curbed.
Last year, seven pedestrians were struck by vehicles at crosswalks. In the new year, on Jan. 17, in broad daylight, a woman was struck at a crosswalk, the cab driver who hit her received a violation ticket. These were collisions not accidents.
Of course, we hope, no one means to crash into a pedestrian on Second Avenue or Third Avenue when the lights are dim, and the rain is clamouring on your windshield, and the crosswalk paint is so faded you barely notice it’s there other than by memory.
But by not using the word accident we’re acknowledging that these events are preventable and encouraging others to see it that way too.
Video and story: Rupert man on a mission to promote road safety