Motor vehicle crash versus accident: a change in terminology is necessary

J Trauma Stress. 2002 Aug;15(4):333-5. doi: 10.1023/A:1016260130224.


We assert that motor vehicle crash should replace motor vehicle accident in the clinical and research lexicon of traumatologists. Crash encompasses a wider range of potential causes for vehicular crashes than does the term accident. A majority of fatal crashes are caused by intoxicated, speeding, distracted, or careless drivers and, therefore, are not accidents. Most importantly, characterizing crashes as accidents, when a driver was intoxicated or negligent, may impede the recovery of crash victims by preventing them from assigning blame and working through the emotions related to their trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic* / psychology
  • Accidents, Traffic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • United States