November 6, 2014
To the Publisher and Editors of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune,
We read with great interest your article, “Is a car crash ever an accident?” (10/31/14) by Nicole Norfleet.
In the piece it is mentioned that the Star Tribune is considering amending the papers’ style guide with regard to use of the word “accident”.
We, the undersigned all support and encourage you to make this change in the way your writers, reporters and editors use the word “accident” in reporting on roadway incidents.
It is our belief that “accident” carries a connotation, or an implication, that crashes are unavoidable and without fault.
The reality, and research, shows that the vast majority of roadway crashes are the result of behavior that would predictably lead to an increase in the likelihood of these instances. Those who drive under the influence, distracted, or aggressively, among other behaviors, are consciously acting in a manner that is universally known to increase the chance of an event that could kill and injure innocent victims. Somehow the word “accident” doesn’t seem appropriate for such dangerous and reckless behavior.
“Accident” has become a euphemism that gives cover to those that have behaved wrongly and hurt others and now use the word to deflect blame from the damage they have caused.
We encourage you to change your policy and to substitute words that more accurately reflect the circumstances of roadway incidents, words that do not carry unintended implications. Instead of accident, we encourage you to use “crash”, “collision” or “wreck” and in some cases “crime”. These words are accurate, simple descriptors of the physicality or circumstances of a roadway incident.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your response.
Candace Lightner – President – We Save Lives (Founder of MADD)
Jeff Larason – President – Safe Roads Alliance
Deborah A.P. Hersman – President & CEO – National Safety Council
Nancy Johnson – Legislative Liaison and past President – Minnesotans for Safe Driving
Penny Wells – CEO – SADD National
Lee Erikson – State Coordinator – Minnesota / Northern Lights SADD
Jessica Smith – State Coordinator – Arizona SADD
Danielle Branciforte – Florida SADD and Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition
Corinne Shea – Director of Programs – Institute for Behavior and Health
Ed Wood – President – DUID Victim Voices
Janet Brooking – Executive Director – DriveSmart Virginia
Sharon Sikora – Vice President – Victim Advocate – We Save Lives
Jennifer Freedman Smith – Executive Director – Stop Distractions
Jerri Dye Lynch – Founder – In Honor of Conor
Karen Bowman – Founder, Executive Director – Drop it and Drive
Tom Everson – Keep Kids Alive Drive 25″
Bill Downs and Julie President & Co-Founder – Advocates for Victims of Impaired Driving
Phyllis E. Talbot – DUI Program Supervisor – Polk, Highlands, & Hardee counties, Florida
Joel Feldmen and Dianne Anderson Founders – End Distracted Driving (EndDD)
Chike Nwaka – Founder/President – Road Crash Victims’ Foundation
Laura McLeod – Executive Director – Florida Association of DUI Programs, Inc.
Ginger and Larry Katz – Founders – The Courage to Speak Foundation
William Michael Piecuch, Jr. – Founder and President – Teens Against Drunk Driving
Dr. Richard Roth – Researcher – Impact DUI
Steve Talpins – Founder -The National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime
Jacy Good – Survivor Advocate – Hang Up and Drive
Dee Brant – Vice President – Families Against Chronic Excessive Speed (FACES)
Dr. Ken Druck – Founder – The Jenna Druck Center
Kevin Sabet – Co-Founder – Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Jennifer Zamora-Jamison – Founder – Decide to Drive
Anita Boles – CEO – National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS)