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Crash

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This page refers to an incident on the road. For the police Collision Recording And SHaring system known as CRASH, see Reported by Police Force with CRASH

In Road Safety, a crash is an incident occurring on the public highway which involved at least one vehicle. Any crash which resulted in human death or personal injury (an injury crash), and which has been notified to the Police, must be reported under STATS19.

In MAST, the term crash is used to refer to an injury crash which has been reported unders STATS19. The MAST Crashes Measure contains a count of such incidents.

Sometimes, other terms are used within the road safety community to describe crashes. These include accident (or Personal Injury Accident, abbreviated to PIA) and Collision (or Personal Injury Collision, abbreviated to PIC). Different judgements can be made about which term is the most appropriate to use.

Because an injury crash may result in more than one casualty, the total numbers of crashes and casualties cannot be expected to be the same. When reporting statistics, great care should be taken to distinguish between numbers of incidents which occurred (crashes) and the number of people injured as a result (casualties).

Contents

Severity of crashes

The severity of a crash is defined as the highest severity of injury suffered by any resultant casualty. Consequently, it is meaningful to refer to a slight casualty which was suffered as a result of a serious crash, but not vice versa. This can sometimes lead to misunderstandings when severity information is reported.

Alternative terms

Accident

In most formal government documents, including those concerning statistics derived from STATS19 reporting, crashes are generally referred to as accidents.

MAST does not use this term for the following reasons:

  • As noted in STATS20, the definition of this term as used by STATS19 differs from that used by the Road Traffic Act 1988 which may result in reader misunderstanding
  • Many definitions of this term connote an unlucky consequence of circumstances: this may lead readers to infer that no party was at fault and that such events are unavoidable, which is not in fact true of many crashes

Collision

In some other road safety contexts, crashes are sometimes referred to as collisions.

MAST does not use this term for the following reasons:

  • A crash does not necessarily involve a vehicle colliding with anything (for example, a lorry overturning or a cyclist overbalancing)
  • Because this term also has a formal scientific meaning, it evokes less emotional reaction than 'crash' and consequently may lessen reader awareness of the potentially dire consequences of such events
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