Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 333–335

Motor Vehicle Crash versus Accident: A Change in Terminology Is Necessary

  • Alan E. Stewart
  • Janice Harris Lord

DOI: 10.1023/A:1016260130224

Cite this article as:
Stewart, A.E. & Lord, J.H. J Trauma Stress (2002) 15: 333. 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.

motor vehicle accident motor vehicle crash posttraumatic stress disorder victim victim advocacy 

Copyright information

© International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan E. Stewart
    • 1
  • Janice Harris Lord
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesville
  2. 2.National Consultant, Crime Victim IssuesArlington

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