WASHINGTON - Many safety experts dislike the word 'accident' because it suggests 'unavoidable.' Nonsense, they say - all accidents are avoidable.
That is especially the case these days at headquarters of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - where 'accidents' have been outlawed. Henceforth, by unavoidable order of NHTSA Administrator Dr. Ricardo Martinez:
The Accident Investigation Division has become the Crash Investigation Division.
The Fatal Accident Reporting System has become the Fatal Analysis Reporting System.
The National Accident Sampling System is now the National Automotive Sampling System.
The latter two are the agency's data bases on fatal crashes and on accident, oops, crash patterns.
NHTSA spokesman Tim Hurd insisted last week that there is a logic to the word ban.
'It's an indication of Dr. Martinez's serious approach to this. He's willing to make these changes to focus people's attention on how to avoid pain and suffering,' he said.
But Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, thinks any agency that has the time to tinker with the English language has far too much time on its hands.
'If that's true,' he said, 'it seems to me that NHTSA should explain how its own rule-making accidents occur.'