car crash vs car accident

Discussion in 'English Only' started by GenevieveLaFleur, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. GenevieveLaFleur New Member

    Well, is there any difference between a car crash and a car accident? cause I heard, that a native English speker, who was an Englishman told once - a car accident, but the dictionary says a car crash...
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    They both mean much the same thing.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  3. GenevieveLaFleur New Member

    and there isn't any difference in their usage?
  4. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    Genereally speaking I would say no, although there might be some avoidance of the term 'accident' in say insurance and the like.
  5. GenevieveLaFleur New Member

    Thank you very much!
  6. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    Welcome to the forum, Genevieve!

    Yes, there is considerable difference between these phrases, at least in American English. (Perhaps they are synonymous in Great Britain, as Beryl says.)

    A "car accident" could describe any event in which a car is involved, in which there is damage to the car and/or its occupant(s). An accident could be as minor as a car bumping into something at low speed and scraping some paint off or denting a fender.

    A "car crash" is a particular kind of accident: a violent collision in which a car has slammed into something, or something (such as another vehicle) has slammed into it, usually at high speed, with considerable damage and/or injury resulting.
  7. NTV Banned

    ...and resulting in death, perhaps?
  8. I am in complete agreement with Parla.

    The specifics of any resulting death or injury or details about the damage to the two objects collidng could not be known, however, just in the phrase all by itself. Sometimes a race car driver crashes into the side of a cement wall, the car flips over, bursts into flame, and then the driver, completely unhurt, walks out unharmed.
  9. A pedestrian hit by a car is in a car accident - not a car crash.

  10. True enough Rover, the pedestrian was involved in a car accident. (In AE, "in a car accident" would imply to me usually not a pedestrian but another vehicle driver.)

    The question posed originally though, was, is there any difference between "car accident" and "car crash," or are they exact interchangeble synonyms?

    If the driver of the car in your scenario had been traveling at great speed, hit the pedestrian, and then proceeded to what "slam into, crash into, do something into a store are you expressing this in BE?

    Surely on both sides of the Atlantic we've got either a staid neutral report which is making me yawn, or the use of the word crash which instantly informs me of some violent collision.
  11. NTV Banned


    Is crash not correct? Should it have been "accident"?
  12. You have a choice. Crash means "violent accident" while accident does not carry that additional meaning and is neutral.

    Crash is powerful, with emotion. Accident is mild with no emotion.

    If words had color and sizes, crash is big and red, accident is small and gray.

    That is why in the above sentences you used, both accident and crash are being used. You also can make the choice to use crash to show us emotion and violence, and in the same sentence use the word accident to vary the word and to show the non-emotional word by the neutral police and other non-emotional writers.
  13. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    In AE, a collision between a motor vehicle and another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a fixed object such as a tree or telephone pole used to be (1960's and probably later) referred to universally as an "accident." However, some vehicle-safety activists objected that, especially when the driver was under the influence of alcohol or driving faster than the speed limit, such incidents were not accidental, but the foreseeable results of deliberate decisions to do drugs, drink too much, drink at all, drive too fast, etc. They crusaded for replacement of the word "accident" to describe such incidents, and the word became politically incorrect. Therefore, politically correct news media now use the word "crash" to describe what used to be called an "accident."

    If you call a motor-vehicle collision an "accident," you are excusing driving too fast, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or other reckless behavior and showing your nasty indifference to the physical and mental suffering of the true victims of this vicious behavior and of their relatives and friends. You probably drink and drive too fast yourself, deliberately heedless of the likely results. It is only by sheer luck that you haven't already killed dozens of people. You should be in jail to protect innocent careful drivers and pedestrians.
  14. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    I think there's a bit of onomatopoeia in 'crash' - crumpling metal, shattering glass, etc. Whereas an accident is a quieter affair, even though there may be death.

    For what it's worth, at one time, I used to investigate motor accidents for insurance companies. 'Accident' and 'crash' were never used - it was all 'impact'.
  15. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    WR dictionary definition of accident "an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally."

    A car crash could be accidental (even when one of the the drivers is under the influence). PC has a lovely way of distorting/raping languages... You can have accidents where there was no crash, such as driving your car into a pond.


    What about the driver who drives his car into a wall to commit suicide? Now that's a crash, not an accident...
  16. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    Yes, NTV, perhaps.

    In the "Orange County accident" description you cite (post #11): No, I wouldn't call it a crash; part of the picture of a crash is that the car hits something (or something hits it) forcibly, which brings it to a halt. In the ghastly accident described here, the car hit the victim and the driver, apparently so sleepy or drugged or drunk that he or she was oblivious to the impact, kept driving, dragging the pedestrian for more than half a mile (approximately one kilometre).
  17. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm with Parla on the difference between "car crash" and "car accident".

    (It follows that I disagree with Beryl that the two have the same meaning in BrE.)
  18. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    "Crash" vs. "Accident"

    The words are often or even usually interchangeable, but there is a subtle difference of nuance.

    A [car-] "crash" implies always that the vehicle has collided with another object - another car, a tree or some other obstacle. An "accident" may mean simply that the driver and his vehicle has for whatever reason veered off the road and ended where he may have preferred not to be.:)

    I am a cyclist: I have accidents quite often, but (thank the Lord) only rarely crashes.
  19. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    The main difference is, a car accident is an accident. Not all crashes are accidental.
  20. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    It isn't just news media. Some governmental jurisdictions (and thus their police departments) have also chosen to adopt the word "crash" and eschew the word "accident". New York (and this applies to both the State and the City of that name) is not among them, and we continue to refer to "accidents", and to fill out "accident reports". I remember, though, writing an article several years ago for publication in an international police professional journal about a traffic safety procedure that had been implemented by the NYPD. Throughout the article I referred to "accidents", and to "accident reports", which are the official and formal terms used by all police departments in my state. However, to my annoyance and chagrin, I discovered when the article was published that the editors had changed every single occurrence of "accident" to "crash", including making references to non-existent "crash reports", instead of the actual "accident reports" that the State of New York requires.
  21. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    Police departments have to be politically correct too. I am amazed that the police in New York City and State did not convert to the correct language long ago.
  22. GenevieveLaFleur New Member

    Wow, thank you, guys, so much information.
  23. PamyuPamyu Member

    What about CAR CRASH & CAR WRECK ?

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