why we don't say

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No Margin For "Oops"

A child sets about consuming his favorite flavor of ice cream, intent on keeping the mint chocolate chip scoop in a perfect sphere as he licks. No sooner has his mother cautioned him to be careful, his tongue jabs too aggressively and causes the sugary mass to fall to the sidewalk with an unceremonious “plop.” His lower lip quivers and he wails, “It was an accident!”

 At Impact Teen Drivers, we make the conscious decision to avoid the word, “Accident,” when referring to car crashes, because it evokes a sort of “Oops” mentality; “Accidents Happen.”

Our overall aim as an organization is to change the culture of driving to one that is distraction-free, and part of changing that culture is choosing to use words that most constructively frame the issue. We believe that car crashes, namely fatal ones, should be regarded as anything but the norm, and our language needs to reflect that.



an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause.


(mere) chance, coincidence, twist of fate, freak

But we know it is not a coincidence when a teen crashes her car because she chose to eat her breakfast behind the wheel—she had doubled her chances of crashing due to that decision.  We know it is not mere chance that a teen loses control of his car because he made the decision to text and drive—he was 8x more likely to crash. Go to http://www.whatdoyouconsiderlethal.com/ and spin the Wheel Of Death to see how all the distractions add up to DEADLY.

 As the number one killer of teens, reckless and distracted driving is not something to be idly accepted. Car crashes do involve human error, but the majority of those human errors involve decisions that leave no margin for “Oops.” Unlike your scoop of ice cream crashing to the sidewalk, a fatal crash is not just an “accident.” No conversation, no message, no sip, no song, no photo, no bite, no daydream, NO DISTRACTION is accidental. These distractions are avoidable.    

We must work to evolve the collective attitude about driving, giving every aspect of road travel the consideration it deserves, including the way we talk about it. It is only through this comprehensive approach that we can stop this preventable epidemic.