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

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Journal of Traumatic Stress


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.

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Stewart, A.E., Lord, J.H. Motor Vehicle Crash versus Accident: A Change in Terminology Is Necessary. J Trauma Stress 15, 333–335 (2002).

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