New York DMV No Longer Describes Traffic Crashes as “Accidents” [Updated]

The current DMV data archive page ...
... and the page as it appeared in June 2012.

A sharp-eyed reader pointed out to us that the New York State DMV has stopped using the word “accident” in its annual statistical summaries.

On its 2011 data web page, and in each of its 2011 reports, DMV refers to traffic crashes as “crashes.” “Accident” does not appear in any of the agency’s 2011 materials. The header on the statistical summaries archive page was also changed from “Motor Vehicle Accidents” to “Motor Vehicle Crashes.”

To describe a traffic crash as an accident is to relieve all parties of responsibility. Though there are laws against drinking and driving, for example, as of 2010 the DMV listed alcohol-involved crashes among “accidents with human factors.”

Even when a motorist uses a car as a weapon, the media can’t break the habit. “It looked like the accident happened intentionally,” said a local reporter of a 2008 crash in the Bronx, in which a driver mowed down a man after an argument.

DMV communications staff couldn’t tell us why the change was made at this particular time, but said they expected the agency will use “crash” from now on. The department gave us this statement:

A vehicle crash encompasses a wider range of potential causes than does the term accident. An accident implies something that is not preventable. A majority of crashes are caused by intoxicated, speeding, distracted, or careless drivers and, therefore, are not accidents. That is why the term “crashes” is used not only by the New York State DMV, but also by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Good stuff. Today the DMV, tomorrow the Daily News.

(h/t to Keegan Stephan of Time’s Up!)

Update: Thanks to Transportation Alternatives, which urged the DMV to make this change.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

“Bike Bedlam” Fact Check: NYC Bike-Ped Injuries Drop From Low to Lower

|
Editor’s note: Streetsblog has retracted this post. The information on bike-on-ped crashes is not accurate. Read the full correction for an explanation of how we acquired the erroneous data and how we determined it was incorrect. Pedestrian injuries sustained citywide in collisions with bicyclists pale beside the more than 10,000 pedestrian injuries and deaths sustained […]

Correction: State DOT Keeps No Records of NYC Bike-on-Ped Injuries

|
Last week we ran a post in response to CBS2’s “Bike Bedlam” series in which we published a table showing a downward trend in NYC bike-on-ped injuries. In response, we received a few inquiries about how the data was collected and what it represents. After following up with agencies and organizations involved in crunching crash […]

New Data Debunks “Bike Bedlam” Sensationalism

|
New data is online about the extent of bike-on-ped crashes in New York City, and it adds some much-needed perspective to the public discourse about the “safety crisis” on city streets. According to reports collected by NYPD and compiled online by NYC DOT [PDF], police responded to 27 bike-ped collisions citywide in the last three […]
Lauren Davis was killed by a turning driver on Classon Avenue last April. Photo: Family of Lauren Davis

Citing Erroneous NYPD Report, State DMV Judge Declines to Take Action Against Driver Who Killed Lauren Davis

|
The family of Lauren Davis is reeling after a judge at the state Department of Motor Vehicles declined to take action against the motorist who struck and killed her on Classon Avenue last year. Davis's mother, sister, and brother traveled from California to attend the hearing, and said they had been told by the NYPD Highway Patrol detective investigating the crash that he would also be there. He never showed up.