Crash Not Accident

Hear someone refer to road “accident”?

What to do:

  1. Send them our briefing, available here: It's a crash, not an accident - ending a language of neglect and denial
  2. Help us update it. This will be our fourth version over the past two decades. We had hoped this would not be needed. Send us your thoughts on why "accident" does not help.

Here's Why

The term “road accident” exemplifies society’s tolerance of road danger

Too many still do not hold drivers accountable for their actions, implying instead it was a matter of chance.

RoadPeace was an early campaigner on Crash not Accident. Two key reasons included

  • Careless Driving charge did not recognise a death had been caused and
  • Inquests into road deaths caused by law breaking drivers resulted in an “accidental death “ verdict”.

Brigitte Chaudhry, RoadPeace founder, suffered from both of these after her son Mansoor was killed by a driver who ran a set of traffic lights. At the inquest, the coroner gave an “accidental death” verdict, whereby RoadPeace members responded by chanting “Road crime is no accident”.

Progress was slow. Despite the 1994 report of a multi-disciplinary working group including police, coroners, campaigners, and CPS which recommended that the term accident be replaced by crash or collision, it was not until 2013 that a Road Traffic Collision verdict was introduced. And the charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving was not implemented until 2008.

Others were quicker. The BMJ banned it in 2001. Many police had already appreciated its negative connotations.


But it still remains common place in the media

This was demonstrated by the response to the collision on Exhibition Road in October 2017 which was first thought to be a terrorist attack. Read this article for more: Why no war on road terror?

It is not just a problem for Britain. NYC’s Transportation Alternatives launched a fantastic campaign on Crash Not Accident. Read more by visiting www.crashnotaccident.com.

And whilst DfT has made some progress with referring to crashes and collisions, its default terminology in its analysis remains accident, even when discussing drink drive related or hit and run crashes.