Police using the word ‘accident’ less to describe traffic crashes

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:15 PM EST
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GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJRT) - While many of the incidents on icy roads Tuesday morning would be categorized as an accident, a new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that 94% of all traffic crashes are due to driver errors.

With that information, police say they’re done using the word “accident” to describe traffic crashes and they hope more drivers will take responsibility for their actions behind the wheel.

Slipping and sliding on icy or snow-covered roads can be unavoidable on some winter days even for the most cautious driver. But recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 36,000 of the nearly 40,000 traffic related deaths in 2019 could have been avoided if drivers made different choices.

Grand Blanc Township Police Chief Ron Wiles said those choices that cause most of the crashes seen on roadways.

“It falls on me, it’s on you, it’s on anyone who has a driver’s license. The majority of crashes happens because of human error,” he said. “The majority of them happen because of one of four things: Speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence and not wearing a seatbelt.”

Police, the Michigan Department of Transportation and AAA are calling these incidents crashes -- not accidents -- because they could be avoided.

“The big push used to be calling them accidents, but its not necessarily that,” Wiles said. “It’s usually something the driver has done or has not done. Be aware of your surroundings, understand that you are driving a vehicle that has the ability to cause serious damage to someone else and we are responsible for making sure we drive that vehicle safely.”

According to the study and police, using the term crash instead of accident has the potential to save lives by reminding drivers that they are in charge behind the wheel making choices that are not accidental at all.

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