In 2017 1,617,597 people were involved in vehicle crashes in the Texas transportation system, killing almost 3,800 of them and severely injuring 17,956 of them. About 1,700 times a day people are involved in a crash somewhere in Texas – on average every 51 seconds. An average day in the Texas transportation system takes ten lives and leaves 50 people with life-changing serious injuries like brain damage or loss of a limb.
A problem with the Texas transportation system is the way we talk about it. Referring to crashes as “accidents” leaves mistaken impressions. It makes it seem accidents are inevitable and removes responsibility from individual decisions as well as decisions we as a society make through our transportation decision making system, especially road design.
The recent Crash Not Accident movement was launched in New York City by a group called Families for Safe Streets, led by several mothers and fathers whose children were killed in traffic crashes. They launched a pledge that explains their reasoning for replacing “accident” with “crash” and have worked extensively with media and public officials to change the way we talk about crashes.
However, this concept has a further back history, beginning at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a 1997 formal statement. This statement explained that several Federal agencies were collaborating together on a “goal to eliminate ‘accident’ from the agencies’ vocabulary. In this manner, attention will be focused on causes of crashes, and what can be done to prevent collisions and the resulting injuries.”
What can we do?
Farm&City, along with partners from across the state supporting the Vision Zero Texas legislative agenda, are promoting a bill that would simply change every instance of the term “accident” in the Texas transportation code to “crash.” The bill has yet to be filled, but we expect it to be identical to one filed last session, HB 4243, filed by Representative J.M. Lozano. This post will be updated as soon as a new bill is filed.
We need to take collective responsibility for the dangers of our transportation system. Every use of the term “accident” when referring to a traffic crash in the Texas transportation code can and should be changed to “crash” to bring the code up to date to standards already in use by TXDOT and other states.
There are numerous stories and on this simple change – here are just a few:
- Does it Matter if We Call Crashes ‘Accidents’?
- It’s no accident: Advocates want to speak of car ‘crashes’ instead
- Why we need to change the way we talk about traffic deaths
And even research showing the impacts of using crash as opposed to accident. According to several recent studies, how we talk about traffic crashes impacts how the public perceives crashes and appropriate policy responses.
Professor Tara Goddard at Texas A&M and others have looked at this through a series of research papers, including “Does news coverage of traffic crashes affect perceived blame and preferred solutions? Evidence from an experiment” published in Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Volume 3, December 2019
Families of victims of traffic violence deserve this fix.
Farm&City is working with community groups, nonprofits, elected officials, activists, citizens, and private companies to support the Vision Zero Texas legislative agenda. The Texas legislature is now more aware than ever before of the tragic toll of traffic crashes on Texas families. We need to gather a dedicated core of citizen advocates from across the state to get these common sense bills passed and signed by Governor Abbott, this year. You can help save lives on our streets.
We are looking to put together volunteer leadership teams of 5-8 people to help actively shepherd each bill through the legislative process. We are also looking for interested groups, organizations, companies, governments or elected officials to sign on as sponsors, and representative members to join our pool of volunteer advocates.
First Meeting: Vision Zero Texas volunteer leaders Thursday, January 28th, 4pm CST
During this meeting you will have the chance to select the particular bill you wish to help shepherd through the legislative process, and join the fellow members of your team in break out groups.
You can also help pass the Vision Zero Texas legislative agenda by donating to Farm&City today
Farm&City is a small 501c3 nonprofit that relies upon our ability to collaborate across the state and empower citizen volunteers to do bigger things than our budget would make seem possible. The more that we can build a solid foundation for this charitable organization, the better job we can do bringing more volunteers into this work, and making our collective actions effective.
Can we count on your support today to pursue this ambitious state and local Vision Zero agenda to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Texas?