The Most Common Cause of Traffic Accidents is Human Error - Part II

Daniel Noffsinger - Friday, September 15, 2017

This series is in support of exchanging the word ‘accident’ with ‘car crash’ when referring to automobile accidents. In the second and final part of the series, attention is paid to ‘accident’ language and why it has created a dismissive approach to the increase in car crash fatalities.

Otto Nobetter Knows Better

The origins of the word ‘accident’ are the true backstory to this series. The word ‘accident’ was introduced in the lexicon in the early 1900s by manufacturing and other industries that were looking for ways to protect themselves from the costs of caring for workers injured on the job. Back then, there were no workers’ compensation laws, and if an employee was involved in an accident at work, the company, if negligent, could be open to liability. When the workers’ compensation laws were enacted, it took away the employee’s right to sue an employer directly for negligence following a workplace accident.

These manufacturers created a cartoon character called Otto Nobetter, similar to Smokey the Bear, who warns campers of the dangers of forest fires and provides safety tips for campground visitors and inhabitants. Otto Nobetter suffered frequent accidents that left him maimed, crushed, and burned alive. The idea behind Otto was to warn the worker of the risks of death and serious injury from inattention.

Automotive Industries Adoption of Word Accident

By the 1920’s the automobile industry was in full swing. More and more cars were being added to the roadways and as a result there was an increase in car crash fatalities. Car manufacturers and auto insurers borrowed the word accident to deflect attention away from manufacturing defects and placed the blame on the car crashes on the driver instead of the car. Through time however, no one has come to be responsible for car crashes.

Word Change Promoted by Car Crash Fatality Families

Family members of the dead want the reporting on the accident to say car crash. The only side of the story known when a fatality occurs is that of the survivor. A neutral term is needed to objectively report on the car crash because the other witness is dead.

Injured in a car crash in Colorado Springs, Colorado? Call Noffsinger Law for a FREE Consultation at (719) 368-3688 today.