Memo to all reporters, especially traffic reporters:
(a) there are no traffic "accidents".
As I have said repeatedly, the word "accident" implies randomness, an Act of God, a twist of fate, an event for which no reasonable precautions could have been taken.
Crashes or collisions - the words approved by most in the traffic safety business - are almost never "accidental".
Now, anyone's individual involvement in a particular event may be accidental - you're driving along and a railway car falls off an overpass on top of your car, as happened in Whitby a couple of years ago.
Nothing the victims could reasonably have done to predict or avoid that.
But the fact that the railway car fell off the overpass was due to somebody doing something wrong, or a failure of somebody to do something right.
Letting them off the hook by calling it an "accident" doesn’t help.
(b) Cars do not "lose control". As my friend Gary Magwood, one of Canada's leading advanced driver trainers, pointed out in a letter he sent to the editor recently regarding a story in our May 26 issue about two deaths in two separate "accidents" in my home town of Milton, he has "…never witnessed a vehicle that could 'lose control' without human input. Parked in the driveway, vehicles are relatively benign. In one day it would appear that technology has leapfrogged and due to a malfunction of their systems, two vehicles lost control and crashed, and another changed lanes and collided with another vehicle."
He adds, "Drivers, who either lack sufficient education and training or are impaired, distracted, or suffer a medical emergency, lose control, change lanes or create the circumstances for crashes and collisions.
"Vehicle crashes and collisions are
predictable and preventable and are not contingent on the behaviour of
Couldn't - haven't - said it better myself.
Almost by definition, we journalists believe that words are important. Using the correct words to describe what we are writing about is paramount.
Reporters - choose you words carefully.
Editors, wield your metaphorical red pencils ruthlessly.