The SFPD’s Major Accident Investigation Team has been renamed the Traffic Collision Investigation Team, and the department’s website has removed the term “accident” from its contact info page. The news follows a Streetsblog post on October 21, in which we pointed out that SFPD regularly violates its official policy of referring to car crashes as “collisions.”
The SFPD reportedly announced to the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee this week that the MAIT team had been renamed, and a cursory Google search of the term “accident” on the SFPD website turns up only one result, found in the description of the Traffic Company. All other instances on the SFPD’s web pages appear to have been removed. None of the SFPD’s press releases and daily press recaps in recent weeks appeared to have used “accident,” either.
The SFPD deserves credit for responding to this long-standing oversight. The vocabulary chosen by law enforcement officials is important — it can set the tone for how traffic violence is viewed by officers and the public.
Looking forward, we’re hoping to see the department’s view of deaths and injuries on our streets as preventable tragedies consistently reflected by thorough crash investigations and data-driven prioritization of traffic enforcement.