When should the word “accident” be replaced with “crash”? In my practice as a clinical and forensic psychologist specializing in trauma resulting from vehicular crashes we often use the word accident to describe the event. However, often the traumatic event was not the result of behaviors that are unintentional in the sense of some level of personal negligence can be attributed. Such behaviors that could be considered negligent would include drinking, drugging, texting, speeding, and driving while fatigued.
The need to use the word crash was highlighted in a 1997 campaign initiated by the National Traffic Safety Administration to describe traffic events that are avoidable. The idea was to assign personal responsibility for traffic events in which the driver decided to drive while impaired from consuming alcohol. It was not viewed as an accident if someone made the decision to drink and drive and caused vehicles to crash.
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