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Does terminology affect how people react to car accidents?

The California media gets a lot of blame for swaying public opinion and presenting information in a way that affects how people think and feel about certain issues. According to Forbes, recent studies show this may be true when it comes to reports on motor vehicle accidents. In fact, the studies show that media reporting could be a factor in why accident rates do not seem to drop significantly.

The media uses the word accident a lot when reporting on collisions and crashes. Reports often leave out names and focus on identifying vehicles, which may have a subconscious effect on readers or viewers who shift the blame for the incident to the vehicle and not the person behind the wheel. They also often leave out critical pieces of information about the scene and location, which is detrimental because it often masks the real issue of a safety problem on the roadway.

Victim blaming

Many times, the way the media describes an incident ends up with the public blaming the victim. This is especially true for accidents involving motorcycles and pedestrians. Even if the auto involved is the one responsible for the collision, the way the media reports it sometimes makes it seem as if the other party was at fault.

Terminology changes

Using the term “accident” also plays a significant role in how the public views information. “Accident” makes it seem like it just happened and nobody had liability. Using the word “crash” sends a different message. It brings the focus back on whatever or whoever was at fault.

Using the right terminology may help get the message across better. It may bring awareness to bad driving habits or unsafe roadways. It helps to start movements and get people working toward making the roads safer.

Something as simple as replacing a word or adding more details to a story may enable the media to rally the public to take a stand. It may help prevent accidents or at least get attention to issues that lead to collisions.

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