accident / crash

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wildan1

Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
English - USA
In English there is now a tendency to avoid "accident" when referring to incidents occurring in transportation, since it suggests that such incidents occur with no human error.

The preferred official words now are crash or collision.

Of course, we still often say accident in conversation, but government and insurance officials now avoid this word.

Can the same distinction be made in French?
 
  • mathilde70

    Senior Member
    French
    I have read a number of articles recently about this topic ("les accidents de la route sont rarement des accidents"), but to my knowledge, there is no other way to say it.
     

    broglet

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think in BE 'accident' simply suggests that it wasn't deliberate without any implications re human error
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    Merci, mais collision est limitée, je pense, à une situation où un véhicule percute un autre objet (autre voiture, train ou avion, un arbre, un mur, etc.)

    Pour airplane crash, où la possibilité de manque de responsabilité est rarissime, est-ce que crash d'avion (terme que je lis souvent dans les sources médiatiques françaises) implique la responsabilité du pilote ou des constructeurs, et non le simple destin que « écrasement » pourrait suggérer ?
     

    Michelvar

    Quasimodo
    French / France
    Bonjour,

    Non, crash d'avion ne contient aucune information sur les causes. Accident aérien non plus, il indique simplement qu'il n'y a pas eu de volonté de détruire l'appareil (une faute de pilotage restant accidentelle, tant qu'elle n'est pas volontaire).

    Un accident peut avoir pour cause une ou des erreurs humaines. Lorsque ce ne sont pas des erreurs, mais une volonté de nuire, alors cela devient un attentat, par exemple, ça n'est plus un accident.
     

    AmaryllisBunny

    Senior Member
    English (AmE)
    I think this is a question of perspective as well. In the general case, an "accident," "collision," and "crash" are all synonymous, where "accident" may be slightly more common. However, when one becomes an involved party, these meanings take on a new light, in which "accident" to those involved as wildan1 stated implies that nobody was at fault or it was not the result of human error, whereas collision or crash are "matter-of-fact" words, focalizing on the result.

    For legal and insurance reasons, this opens up a can of worms. It's easier get people to admit to being in an accident than causing a crash. With "accident" there are sympathetic undertones for the "potential causer" (it wasn't on purpose) whereas crash and collision seem to overwhelmingly favor the passengers and victims.
     

    broglet

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think this is a question of perspective as well. In the general case, an "accident," "collision," and "crash" are all synonymous.
    No. A collision simply refers to two things hitting each other without necessarily causing much damage. A crash is usually more serious and might just involve one vehicle or plane. Not all crashes or collisions are accidents. Not all accidents are crashes or collisions. Not all crashes are collisions. Not all collisions are crashes. Apart from that they are synonymous :)
     

    mathilde70

    Senior Member
    French

    broglet

    Senior Member
    English - England
    La plupart du temps les conducteurs ivres, fatigués et/ou roulants trop vite n'ont pas des collisions, donc un tel évènement n'est pas prévisible, bien que sa probabilité soit augmentée, et il resterait un accident.
     

    CarlosRapido

    Senior Member
    français - English (Can)
    Totally agree with broglet on this, save for the part "Not all crashes are collision". Moving vehicles of any type have to collide with something for a 'crash' to occur; in a plane-crash for example, the moving plane collides with the earth.
    accident; an unfortunate mishap; especially one causing damage or injury
    collision; an accident/event in which a person or vehicle that is moving crashes into something (one explained by the two others :p)
    crash; (of moving objects) collision, esp. violent and noisy.
    Multiple dictionary sources

    In common parlance, a collision is always a violent event, but the scientific meaning of the term doesn't quantify the energy of the contact; "any contact between objects where energy is exchanged and/or a change of direction occurs." With this definition even a chance meeting of two people, with life-changing consequences, could be termed a 'collision'.
     
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    AmaryllisBunny

    Senior Member
    English (AmE)
    Un accident est un événement fortuit ou inattendu selon Larousse.
    C'est cette notion qu'on cherche à éliminer car si quelqu'un est ivre, très fatigué ou roule trop vite, l'évènement peut être considéré comme prévisible.
    Mais si on est ivre ou roule à haute vitesse, l'évènement est considéré comme prévisible, car les actes initiales causants directement (vitesse) ou indirectement (ivresse) l'accident étaient délibérés. Mêmes si les facultés de l'auteur sont diminuées pendant ou après le fait, l'importance est portée sur l'acte initiale pour déterminer la prévisibilité.

    « Nul n'est censé ignorer la loi ».

    Dans l'autre cas, on peut être aussi considéré comme responsable.

    « Il n’est pas nécessaire d’établir la conscience du risque par le prévenu. Selon la formulation de la Cour, il suffit que les juges du fond relèvent le caractère manifestement délibéré de la violation, dans des circonstances de nature à causer un risque immédiat de mort ou de blessures graves à autrui (Crim., 9 mars 1999, pourvoi n° 98-82.269, Bull. crim. 1999, n° 34). »
     

    CarlosRapido

    Senior Member
    français - English (Can)
    That type of reasoning is called 20/20 hindsight in my book - I am on the road day in and day out for my current job and I do happen to see drunk drivers and (many) occurrences of speeding, and accidents too on a regular basis, not necessarily caused by the pre-cited factors. Although the stats do point to a higher incidence of accidents amongst drunk drivers and speeders, I don't believe the numbers are high enough to have a real impact on predictability; they are just an excuse for insurance companies to charge more. The general contention that these factors have a dramatic impact on incidence of mishaps is exacerbated by the fact that they are so much more mediatized than accidents where such factors aren't at play. Judging by the amount of drunks and speeder that I see daily, if accident were significantly increased by drunkenness and/or speeding, we'd see collisions every 10 kilometers on most major roads... As broglet already said, most drunk drivers and most speeders are never involved in an accident. No one can produce objective stats on this because police have no idea how many drunks and speeders are out there; they only know about the ones they manage to catch.

    But all that doesn't change the linguistic problem at hand, the fact remains that accident, crash and collision are so closely related in terms of sense that most dictionaries use one term to explain the other (see my post #13). Accidents are mishaps potentially causing damage or injury, collisions are mishaps where a moving object meets an obstacle and crashes are mishaps where extensive damage occurs. None of these terms say anything about criminal responsibility, predictability or other, any opinion to the contrary rests solely with the person hearing the term or the context in which it is used. To use one over the other to imply responsibility or lack of same is either an exercise in futility or a wilful attempt at obfuscation to present unproven theories as fact.
     
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