Volume 3, No. 11 August 11, 1997

"Crashes Aren't Accidents" Campaign


by Pamela Anikeeff, Traffic Safety Programs


On June 8, at the opening of the Lifesavers/15 Conference in Orlando, Florida, Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D., with Secretary Rodney Slater kicked off the new nationwide campaign "Crashes Aren't Accidents". The Campaign was initiated by Adminstratror Martinez to encourage removal of the word "accident" from our vocabulary. The campaign kickoff featured a poster sized Proclamation (see box) announcing the "Crashes Aren't Accidents" campaign which was signed by the Administrator as part of the ceremony. In a short time, numerous organizations representing thousands of supporters joined the Administrator and literally "signed onto" the Proclamation as well.

A Crash Is Not an Accident

Changing the way we think about events, and the words we use to describe them, affects the way we behave. Motor vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable events. Continued use of the word "accident" promotes the concept that these events are outside of human influence or control. In fact, they are predictable results of specific actions.

Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect, and avoid collisions. These events are not "acts of God" but predictable results of the laws of physics.

The concept of "accident" works against bringing all the appropriate resources to bear on the enormous problem of motor vehicle collisions. Continuous use of "accident" fosters the idea that the resulting injuries are an una-voidable part of life.

"Crash", "collision", "incident", and "injury" are more appropriate terms, and should be encouraged as substitutes for the word "accident".

Within the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US DOT/NHTSA), the word "accident" will no longer be used in materials published and distributed by the agency. In addition, NHTSA is no longer using "accidents" in speeches or other public remarks, in communications with the news media, individuals or groups in the public or private sector.

Recently, two other U.S. Department of Transportation agencies, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) joined NHTSA Administrator, Dr. Ricardo Martinez, endorsing his goal to eliminate "accident" from the agencies' vocabulary. In this manner, attention will be focused on causes of crashes, and what can be done to prevent collisions and the resulting injuries.

Campaign materials include three specific items: 1) a four page booklet which contains a letter from Administrator Martinez concerning the campaign, a copy of the Proclamation announcing the campaign, a sample article for newsletters, and a page of the "Crashes Aren't Accidents" logo in various sizes ready for use; 2) a brochure which lists 15 proven ways to prevent crashes and avoid injuries; 3) Stickers with the "Crashes Aren't Accidents" logo. These three items are available from the Office of Communications and Outreach, Marketing and Media Division. Additional materials for conference exhibits include: Plastic carrying bags, red plastic paper clips, and lapel pins with the "Crashes Aren't Accidents" logo.



Whereas, changing the way we think about events and the words we use will affect the way we behave. Our goal is to eliminate the word "accident" from the realm of unintentional injury, on the highway and across the nation;

Whereas, motor vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable events. Continued use of the word "accident" promotes the concept that these events are outside of human influence or control. In fact, they are predictable results of specific actions;

Whereas, we can identify their causes and take action to avoid them. These are not "acts of God", but predictable results of the laws of physics;

Whereas, use of the word "accident" works against bringing the appropriate resources to bear on this enormous problem. It allows the idea that the resulting injuries are an unexpected part of life;

Now, therefore, we the undersigned, in recognition of this life saving and injury preventing opportunity, do hereby proclaim a national campaign:

"Crashes Aren't Accidents"

To eliminate the word "accident" from the realm of unintentional injury, on the highway and across the nation, with our partners, with the media, and in all public contexts.

I encourage the use of other appropriate terms such as "crash," " collision," "incident," and "injury."

Cleveland Indians Ride Like A Pro

by Curtis Murff, Region V


July 8, 1997 was an important day in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the day of the 68th Annual All-Star Baseball Game, but more importantly, it was the day of the NHTSA sponsored Ride Like A Pro bicycle helmet event in cooperation with the Cleveland Indians. The Ride Like A Pro program was founded by NHTSA in 1994, and was designed to raise awareness about the critical National need for children to learn safe bicycle riding techniques, and to encourage the correct use of bicycle helmets. Previously, Ride Like A Pro events have been held in cooperation with the NFL at the Super Bowl, and with Major League Baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Texas Rangers.

The Cleveland community adopted this event and worked together to organize and run it. A wide variety of organizations in the Cleveland area united to work together in support of this event. Rainbow Babies' and Childrens' Hospital played a major role in coordinating this Ride Like A Pro, recruiting approximately 100 Cleveland Area children and numerous volunteers to staff the event. The children were transported from a staging area at the Cleveland Chapter of the American Red Cross, by riding on "Lolly the Trolley.". The children arrived at Indian Square, just outside of Jacobs Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, each fitted with a donated bicycle helmet.

At Indian Square, the children attended an opening ceremony hosted by Master of Ceremonies, Olympic Wrestler Matt Ghaffari. At this ceremony Major League Baseball was represented by Jimmie Lee Solomon, Executive Director of Minor League Operations. NHTSA Administrator, Dr. Ricardo Martinez, M.D., talked to the children saying that too many children are injured or killed in preventable crashes, and that using bicycle helmets greatly reduces the risks of injury and death. The Deputy Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Laura Ludwig, talked about educating children in communities across the country through programs like Ride Like A Pro. Ms. Ludwig is also the Chair of the National Association of Governor's Highway Safety Representatives.

Cleveland Police Chief Rocco Pullotro represented the City of Cleveland, standing in for helmet advocate Mayor Michael White. Mayor White was unable to attend the ceremony due to treatment of injuries he had received in a recent, serious bicycle crash. The Mayor had been wearing his bicycle helmet, and said his helmet protected him from more serious injuries.

After the opening ceremony, the children were rotated in groups through stations where they received training in bicycle safety. While one group of children received hands-on bicycle riding training, the other group of children listened to lessons in bicycle safety. The children in the lessons were taught the importance of wearing bicycle helmets by Dr. Michael Macknin, M.D., Chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Dr. Macknin used two melons, one with and one without a bicycle helmet, to show the results of an unprotected collision with the pavement. Chief Pollutro taught the children about the "Rules of the Road" and "Being A Smart Rider." The Cleveland EMS Commissioner, Bruce Shade, taught the children the importance of a "Before You Ride: Checklist for Bicycle Safety."

The children in the other group mounted donated bicycles, and received hands-on bicycle riding training in maneuverability, hand signals, traffic awareness, stop signs and traffic lights. The hands-on bicycle riding instruction was provided by Police Bicycle Patrol Officers from several Ohio Police Departments.

At the close of the event, a bicycle was raffled to one of the children. Major League Baseball player Ozzie Smith talked to the children and stressed the importance of wearing helmets on the ball field and on a bicycle.

This Ride Like A Pro event was truly a Cleveland Community effort to prevent bicycle injuries and fatalities. The list of partners for this event included Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians, Rainbow Babies' and Childrens' Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the Greater Cleveland Safe Kids Coalition, the Cleveland American Red Cross, the Cleveland Chapter of AAA, the Cleveland Community College, the Ohio Office of the Governor's Highway Safety Representative, the City of Cleveland and Department of Public Safety, the Cleveland Police and Fire Departments, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland, the Lake County General Health District, the University Hospital of Cleveland, GT Bicycles, the Mors Avenue Community Center, several Ohio police Departments, and others.

Administrator Martinez addresses the crowd, mostly young bike riders, at the Ride Like a Pro event in Cleveland.

Experts in EMS and Managed Care Participate in Round Table Discussion


On June 12, NHTSA Administrator Dr. Ricardo Martinez convened a group of national leaders from emergency medical services and managed health care organizations to discuss strategies for improving the delivery of emergency services. The group met in Washington D.C. to consider the commonalities and differences in mission and operation between EMS and managed care and to identify areas for future collaboration and agreement. Plans also were discussed for future round table discussions that will focus more specifically on the integration of EMS and managed care. A second round table will be held this fall, and a report outlining the results of the first session will be published soon.

Customer Service That Works!

By Kathie Klass, Office of Public and Consumer Affairs


Seattle's Who's Who of consumer leaders representing more than 80 participants from the media, business, nonprofit organizations and local, state and Federal government gather monthly to discuss major issues affecting the residents in the Northwest. For more than twenty years Region 10 in Seattle, Washington has been participating in this informal consumer protection roundtable.

Hot issues, new scams and National Consumers Week are the topics of discussion at the monthly meetings. Seattle regional consumers are the ultimate beneficiaries of the information exchanged which takes place at this roundtable. Consumer professionals are able to share information early on about scams and issues of concern. In addition, the Seattle consumer community often shares resources to educate the consuming public.

Seattle's traffic safety programs have received a boost from this network of professionals. SAFE RIDE News is often on hand to cover NHTSA's issues thanks to the strong working relationship established through this network, which has allowed the Regional office a strong avenue for promoting NHTSA's highway safety messages.

The members of the roundtable share information about community based programs which have an interest in promoting consumer safety. The groups are often encouraged to have booths or set up exhibits at events throughout the Seattle region. (In fact the Seattle regional office has enthusiastically requested the use of both the Auto Safety Hotline and NCAP exhibits.) This network allows the Regional office to participate in additional public outreach efforts, because they often share exhibit space and staff to greet the public.

According to Curt Winston, Region 10 Administrator, the Consumer Roundtable works because it is loosely structured. There are no officers. The only formal structure is the schedule, which is set annually and participants volunteer their offices for meetings. The participants attend the meeting when their schedules permit. For questions about how the Roundtable functions, contact Joyce Chapman at 206-220-7640.

The Seattle Roundtable is often discussed at other meetings around the country, because it has worked for more than 20 years without a formal structure. Since all of us are looking at ways to do more quality customer service with less, Seattle's successful Roundtable is a good example we can all learn from.

Future DOT Employees Already at Work

by Kathie Klass, Office of Public and Consumer Affairs


Passenger safety experts, Gregory Benkowski, Justine Benkowski, Molly Hurd, Shira Sachs and Bridgette Slater were all super stars in the upcoming NHTSA video news release.

On location for the shoot each of the passenger safety experts spent a morning away from their school duties, demonstrating how to be properly and safely belted in a car.

These young stars knew that the safest place in a car for children 12 and under is properly belted up in the back seat. They also knew to push the front seat all the way back on the rare occasion that a child 12 and under must sit in the front seat.

DOT is very fortunate to have such fine ombudsmen sharing auto safety issues with their friends and family. On behalf of DOT, we thank these passenger safety experts for squeezing the safety shoot into their busy schedules.

Pictured from left to right: Justine Benkowski, Shira Sachs, Bridgett Slater, Molly Hurd, and Gregory Benkowski.

Phone Referral List Available Electronically


At various times many of us in NHTSA receive queries about subjects that are not pertinent to our own area of expertise. To help identify the person and/or organization responsible for an activity, the Office of Public and Consumer Affairs has developed an updated telephone referral list by subject area. This list contains not only contact listings by subject within NHTSA, but also numbers for related government agencies and associations.

The list is now available electronically. If you are using Windows 3.1 and have the Public Group on your computer you will find the list there. If the public group is not on your PC, then call your User Help person to have it installed. If you are using Windows 95, the phone list is on the Application Launcher as the NHTSA phone list. The phone list also is available under Administration's Intranet site, Webster. Just use your Netscape browser, enter Webster without www, on the location line. At the Webster Home Page go to Office Directories and to NHTSA Phone Referral Directory.

If you have any questions, contact Kathie Klass at 6-9550 or Ted Pasek at 6-5965.

photo by Frances Lau.

Ms. Vicky Cloud, Executive Director, California MADD, presents a plaque to Don Uelman and Paul Snodgrass of Region IX. The plaque reads, "U.S. DOT and NHTSA -- Recognizing 30 Years of Service -- MADD California May 1997."

Recent People Saving People/ Leadership Challenge Awards


Susan Weiser, NRD

For surveying possible sites in the Detroit airport area for the quarterly briefings. Her survey was well organized and will be a resource for the agency to use in planning meetings in Detroit.

Richard Van Iderstine, NPS

Patrick Boyd, NPS

For their expertise and knowledge in producing a color chart that shows in pictures what lights are required on certain vehicles and where the lights must be located. Their efforts reflect what NHTSA aspires to - sharing their technical expertise with safety experts from other countries to pro-duce world-class safety standards and world-class customer service.

Thomas Enright, R-IV

Romell Cooks, R-IV

Clinton V. Rice, R-IV

Georgia Chak, R-VI

R. Gary Taylor, R-VI

Louis DeCarolis, R-VIII

Philip Weiser, R-VIII

Judy Hammond, R-VIII

For developing and presenting the strategic regionals plans to support the President's Plan for Increasing Belt Use.

James C.Gilkey, NSA

Z. Taylor Vinson, OCC

For contributing their time, extensive experience and expertise in a joint project between Transport Canada and NHTSA for the development of wall posters which pictorially describe Federal light-ing requirements for trailers, trucks, buses and multipurpose vehicles.

Joan Tetrault, NSC

For being the primary coordinator of our efforts to support key highway safety legislation in the states during the past legislative session. She worked closely with Regional and headquarters staff to ini-tiate and maintain a system to provided up-to-date information to DOT leadership.

Howard B. Pritz, NRD

For making a significant effort in providing engi-neering, drafting, documentation, and test sup-port required for rulemaking action on several dummy upgrades. Mr. Pritz was most effective in developing the necessary resources required to provide quality support in a timely fashion for these agency efforts.


"Working together, ordinary people can perform extraordinary feats. They can push things that come into their hands a little higher up, a little further on towards the heights of excellence."


NHTSA Now is an official publication of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Public and Consumer Affairs.
Editor: Kathryn Henry

Contributors: Prentis Kie, NAD; Pamela Anikeeff, TSP; Curt Murff, Region V; Kathie Klass, OPACA.


If you would like to submit articles or photographs, please address them to NHTSA/OPACA, attention Kathryn Henry, NOA-42, 400 7th Street, SW, Room 5232, Washington DC 20590. (202) 366-9550. FAX: (202) 366-5962.
Internet address: khenry@ nhtsa.dot.gov