Assembly Bill 2198 updates California’s vehicle code by replacing the term “accident” with “crash” when referencing instances of drunk, drugged, or distracted driving.
BACKGROUND & ISSUE
Accidents are unpredictable. However, drunk, drugged, and distracted drivers are statistically much more likely to be involved in a crash. In other words, they are predictable. An accident is considered an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought. Thus, labeling them as accidents is misleading.
In 2018, there were 1,069 fatalities in California as a result of alcohol-impaired driving. In 2019, distracted driving was a reported factor in 8.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, while roughly 20% of injuries from car crashes involved distracted driving. Similarly, in 2018, 42% of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes, who were tested, tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs.
All too often, crashes resulting from drunk, drugged, or distracted driving are referred to as accidents. When the term “accident” is used it gives an inaccurate impression that there is no fault or liability involved. It further encourages the perception that crashes are the result of blameless, random occurrences. Drunk, drugged, and distracted driving crashes are not entirely accidents.
Law enforcement agencies and courts have started to transition away from using the term accident and use either crash or collision when negligence is
claimed or proven.
Assembly Bill 2198 calls attention to the discrepancy in articulating what is a traffic collision and what truly is an accident.
By changing “accident” to “crash” when referring to instances of drunk, drugged, or distracted driving in state code, we recognize that the occurrence was preventable and encourages an evidence-based approach to evaluating traffic safety.
We Save Lives (sponsor)
Spencer Street, Legislative Director
“Take Action and Keep Others from Driving Dangerously”
Assemblymember Vince Fong
1021 O Street, Suite 4630
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: SUPPORT – AB 2198 (Fong): Drop the “A” Word
Dear Assemblyman Fong,
On behalf of We Save Lives, we are pleased to both sponsor and support AB 2198. We are a national organization with more than 50 partners, some of which are based in California. We support and promote solution driven policies and programs that save lives by changing dangerous driving choices through viral awareness, education, advocacy and partnerships. We founded the Drop the “A” Word coalition whose goal is to eliminate the word accident when talking about crashes and crimes that involve impairment or distraction. We were successful in getting AP Stylebook to state, “When negligence is claimed or proven, avoid accident, which can be read as exonerating the person responsible.”
AB 2198 updates California’s vehicle code to replace the misleading term “accident” with “crash” when referencing instances of drunk, drugged, or distracted driving.
Too often we hear defense attorneys say when defending a drunk driver, that this was just an “accident.” It was not, it was a choice. The same is true of someone who chooses to use their mobile device while driving. The resulting crash comes from a choice to exercise dangerous and unsafe driving behavior.
Accidents are unpredictable. However, drunk, drugged, and distracted drivers are statistically much more likely to be involved in a crash. In other words, they are predictable. The word “accident” denies the driver responsibility and enables that individual to continue using bad judgement.
My daughter, Cari, was hit from behind by a multiple repeat offender drunk driver on a clear Saturday afternoon. She was thrown 125 feet and left in the road to die. The driver was out on bail from another hit and run drunk driving crime and killing my daughter was his 5th offense in 4 years. Would you say that Cari died in an accident? Survivors of motor vehicle crashes find the word “accident” revictimizing,
We need to put responsibility where it belongs, to change how we speak about these events and stop excusing dangerous driving choices.
For these reasons, we are pleased to support AB 1678.
Candace Lightner, President
3305 Wyndham Circle #155 Alexandria VA 22302 firstname.lastname@example.org 501c3 Tax Exempt