AP Stylebook to Reporters: Avoid the Word "Accident"

New guideline a victory for the #CrashNotAccident campaign

In a major victory for street safety advocates, the Associated Press Stylebook is calling on reporters to avoid the word “accident” in stories about traffic crashes, saying the word “can be read as exonerating the person responsible.” In a tweet over the weekend, the news service recommended “crash, collision or other terms.”

The AP Stylebook’s guideline to avoid “accident” in cases where “negligence is claimed or proven” comes after Transportation Alternatives launched the #CrashNotAccident campaign in 2015 with Families for Safe Streets, a group of New Yorkers who have lost loved ones or been injured in traffic.

“This is a big win for the national Vision Zero movement to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries, because media outlets like the Associated Press have the power to change not only the conversation about safety, but also the culture on our streets,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Now we call on all news outlets, including such New York-based newspapers as the New York Times, the Daily News and the Post, to follow the example of the AP Stylebook, especially when reporting on crash investigations that are not yet complete,” White said.

Amy Cohen of Families for Safe Streets said, “For far too long, news outlets have reflexively used the word ‘accident,’ essentially throwing up their hands and saying traffic deaths are inevitable, something no one is responsible for, like bad weather. With this Stylebook guideline, the AP is sending an important message that crashes are preventable, that we can fix dangerous streets, and we can deter careless, negligent and reckless driving.”

More information about the #CrashNotAccident campaign is available at crashnotaccident.com