Accident vs. Crash: The View from Savannah

Here at Streetsblog, we often discuss the ongoing carnage caused by drivers on the nation’s roads and streets — and the near-total lack of accountability for those who are anything but staggering drunk. And we often discuss, too, the role that language plays in our perceptions of accountability. Today’s Streetsblog Network featured post, from Sustainable Savannah, is a particularly thoughtful and reasonable examination of the importance of terminology — "accidents" vs. "crashes":

355943537_9a269daacc.jpgPhoto by Brittany Randolph via Flickr.

As dependable as morning delivery of the paper (at least for now), any news item describing a car vs. pedestrian “accident” will be
greeted by comments from readers sympathizing with with driver and vilifying the pedestrian — no matter who is at fault. Many fret over the cost of the car’s bodywork.

This is indicative of a kind of thinking that imagines cars as being autonomous from the people who drive them. I’m guilty of this as well. When I was struck while riding my bicycle several years ago, I
described it as being “hit by a car,” not “hit by a person driving a car.” And I’ve done it again in this post. Every reference to car vs. pedestrian or car vs. cyclist above should really read “motorist vs. …”

Elsewhere around the network, many members are having a little April Fool’s fun, so be careful when you click. But these items seem to be for real: Kansas Cyclist reports on a growing network of bike trails in Little Rock, Arkansas; City Parks Blog posts on the recent call for a new urban vision from New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff; and our friends over at Santa Rosa CityBus take stock of their blogging experiment, four months in.

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