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Pressure Mounts to Use “Car Crash” to Describe Serious Car Accidents

Add Dr. Mark Rosekind, the leader of the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSI), to the growing number of people who want to do away with the term “car accident” when discussing motor vehicle collisions.
For one thing, only around six percent of vehicle wrecks are attributable to severe and unexpected inclement weather, product defects and other factors that are entirely beyond the operator’s control. Additionally, advocates like Dr. Rosekind point out, the dictionary definition of “accident” is “an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause,” meaning that most vehicle collisions do not fit the definition of an accident.
This movement to change the language we use to describe car crashes has some momentum. Several years ago, New York City changed its policy in this area; San Francisco and several other major cities, as well as more than two dozen state Departments of Transportation, followed suit. Furthermore, in January 2016, the Nevada Legislature unanimously passed a resolution to change “accident” to “crash” in hundreds of state laws.
Use of this term in this context dates back to the early 1900s, when employers looking for a way to deny compensation to injured workers began calling these incidents “accidents” as a way to downplay their own culpability.
What Are the Main Causes of Car Crashes?
Approximately 94 percent of vehicle collisions are at least partially attributable to the operator’s driving habits.
Some of the leading causes of car wrecks in NYC and elsewhere include:

  • Excessive Speed: A few extra ticks on the speedometer can greatly increase the force involved in a collision, transforming drive-away incidents into serious collisions that sometimes result in permanent injuries.
  • Impairment: As little as one drink can cause alcohol impairment. Intoxicated driving and drugged driving, whether caused by legal or illegal substances, are an increasing problem in New York.
  • Fatigue: Truck drivers often suffer from fatigue. Driving after 18 consecutive waking hours is the equivalent of driving with a .04 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), while driving after 24 consecutive waking hours is like driving with a .10 BAC.
  • Distraction: Using a cell phone, eating, applying makeup or talking to passengers while driving involves cognitive, manual and/or visual distraction. The end result could be a serious car wreck after the driver takes their eyes off the road.
  • Ignoring Conditions: Most vehicles have poor traction on wet or slick roads, which can lead to serious car crashes during inclement weather. This is especially likely when the driver does not sufficiently adjust their driving habits to account for the changed road conditions.

If the victim of a car crash suffered a serious injury, the damages typically include money for economic losses (like medical expenses) and noneconomic losses (which can include emotional distress). Punitive damages may also be available, depending on the circumstances of the car wreck.

Many times, a serious car crash is no accident. That’s why you need a qualified personal injury and car accident lawyer to look over the details of your case and determine how to get you compensated for your injuries. For a free consultation with experienced personal injury attorneys who stand up for car accident victims, contact Proner & Proner today. Our main office is conveniently located across from Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

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