Every now and then there are changes in the way automotive people speak. Sometimes new terminology involves new technology. Other times it could be insider buzz, such as referring to a futuristic vehicle design as being "digital."
Changes in auto talk also can involve changes in society or the way people think.
Case in point: Many engineers, lawyers and regulators who deal with safety issues now refer to automobile crashes rather than accidents.
That change began a decade ago and was the result of an idea by Dr. Ricardo Martinez, when he was head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Martinez got the ball rolling inside NHTSA. He kept a jar on the table during meetings, and any NHTSA staffer who used "accident" instead of "crash" was fined 25 cents.
It worked. Gradually, usage spread outside the agency. But it's still not universal. If you bang up your car, most police officers will still ask you to fill out an accident report.
It's a subtle change in language, but the people who care about automotive safety want all of us to think of collisions as crashes not accidents.
The reason is simple: Accidents happen, but crashes can be avoided.