How much evidence is there for the notion that attitudes and behavior can be shaped by careful phrasing?Photograph by Alan Poulson Photography / ShutterstockIn the first decades of the 20th century, people around the world began succumbing to an entirely new cause of mortality. These new deaths, due to the dangers of the automobile, soon became accepted as a lamentable but normal part of modern life. A hundred years later, with 1.25 million people worldwide (about 30,000 in the U.S.) being killed every year in road crashes, there’s now an effort to reject the perception that these deaths are normal or acceptable.As reported in the New York Times, a growing number of safety advocates, government officials, and journalists are moving away from the phrase “car accident” on the grounds that it presumes that the drivers involved are blameless—a presumption that is correct only 6 percent of the time, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The vast majority of such incidents are caused by drivers who make mistakes, take risks, or drive while distracted or impaired. This linguistic shift is propelled by passionate advocates like Jeff Larason, who runs a blog and Twitter account called Drop…Read More…
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