The Oregon Driver Manual (2014-2015 edition) says, regarding “accidents”:
The common term for crashes, wrecks, and collisions is “accidents.” However, the word “accident” is misleading. If you crash because you were distracted, tired, or not driving defensively, it is a preventable crash, not an accident. Because true accidents are rare, this manual generally uses the words crash, collision, or wreck.
We at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards PS couldn't agree more. As trial lawyers who represent victims of preventable automobile crashes, we make it a point to try to always remember to “call it like it is”, especially when arguing our clients' cases to juries and arbitrators.
If a driver chose to pick up his or her cell phone and look at a text while he or she was driving an automobile, and rear-ended the car ahead, that was not an “accident”, that was a “choice” that led to a preventable crash.
If a driver chose to keep driving when the first warning signs of drowsiness began to show while he or she was driving an automobile and crossed the centerline and hurt or killed innocent victims in another vehicle, that was not an “accident”, that was a “choice” that led to a preventable crash and tragic outcome.
Beyond cell phone use, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and driving fatigued, there are many types of less obvious behavior that must be avoided to prevent highway injuries and deaths, like eating, drinking, smoking, applying makeup, driving with defective equipment. etc. In the many years we have represented victims of highway negligence at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards PS, we have pretty much seen it all.
When behind the wheel of a car, we all have one primary responsibility – to drive.
Anyone who allows themselves to be distracted from that primary responsibility is unnecessarily putting the lives and safety of others at risk. Anyone who does that has to accept that they will be held accountable for their negligence in doing so.