The AP has finally weighed in on the crash vs. accident debate.

In a new entry emailed to their subscribers, the AP Style Guide came down on the side of using crash when negligence may be a factor.

Here’s the new entry:

accident, crash
Generally acceptable for automobile and other collisions and wrecks. However, when negligence is claimed or proven, avoid accident, which can be read by some as a term exonerating the person responsible. In such cases, use crash, collision or other terms. See collide, collision. (new entry)

The AP Style Guide is like the bible for many news organization when it comes to, grammar, spelling and writing style in news stories.

The entry still leaves some ambiguity when it comes to negligence.

I would argue someone must always be negligent when there is any type of collision between two vehicles.

However, this is an improvement and gives journalists guidance in how to handle writing about crashes.

3 thoughts on “AP: Use crash in place of accident in news stories”
  1. Mike, thanks for posting this. I wrote to the AP Style Guide to suggest this change, and I’m sure many others did as well.
    Here’s hoping that AZPM will stop talking about ‘Hit and Run Accidents’ during their traffic reports.

  2. For anyone who is bristling at this change in usage, try this out: instead of calling a collision an accident, describe it as an ‘intentional.’
    “We have an intentional blocking the Ruthrauf exit on I-10 Northbound. Another intentional is reported at Swan and Sunrise. Finally, a hit and run intentional with no injuries is being cleared at Irvington and Midvale Park.”

    Accident absolves drivers in precisely the same way that intentional attributes responsibility. Far better to use neutral terminology: crash, collision, wreck, rollover.

  3. “I would argue someone must always be negligent”
    I agree! (or at least virtually always… ), still a huge step forward for #crashnotaccident and @droptheaword

    Short of autonomously driven vehicles, we’ve got to have a sea-change in attitude in order to improve traffic safety significantly

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