Crash not an Accident

In Motorcycle Terms, what’s the difference?

What we assume and the grammar or language we use to describe our assumption can easily change the thought process and behaviour of others. How we describe collisions will affect not only the behaviour but also the responses to motorcycle crash incidents.

Motorcycle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable actions. The word ‘accident’ promotes the concept that these incidents are beyond human control.

Motorcycle accidents suggest an inevitability and unpredictability of crash incidents. This term inadvertently and incorrectly suggests that crashes cannot be prevented.

A Crash is no Accident!

It is widely acknowledged that accidents usually result in harm and damage to property, but there is an obscured perception that they happen unintentionally and without malicious intent. However, the term ‘accident’ doe not accurately describe the nature of the crash and has vital limitations.

  • It suggests incidents are random: ‘Accident’ is defined as an event that happens by chance or without apparent or deliberate cause. This term implies that events are unavoidable as opposed to resulting from a choice or greater system failure.
  • It implies that no party is at fault: “Accident’ implies that the incident in question was not preventable not holding anyone accountable. In most crashes, neither of these two assumptions is likely to be correct. Research shows that more than 77% of crashes are due to rider error that could have been avoided.
  • It is imprecise: The term ‘accident’ provides a general explanation that an incident occurred but does not explain why it occurred. The term ‘accident’ is seen as random actions and defined as unforeseen or chance which is an inaccurate use to describe the incident.

The concern is that the term ‘accident’ is still routinely used to describe incidents, a term that has been used for decades by individuals, organisations and government, perhaps as a result of a lack of understanding on the contributing factors that lead to crashes.

Motorcycle crashes are incidents that can be reduced through corrective actions

Hein Jonker

Founder of the Motorcycle Safety Institute of South Africa Editor in Chief of Bike Talk South Africa Chief Instructor of Bike Talk Motorcycle Rider Academy Motorcycle Safety Expert for Arrive Alive South Africa

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