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Journalists urged to give views on traffic collision reporting guidance

Police accidentJournalists are being urged to give their views on reporting guidelines for road collisions.

HTFP reported in September how the University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy had produced the draft guidance which included, among other things, a plea for reporters to avoid using the term “road accidents” in stories.

Now those producing the guidance have launched a last-minute plea for more journalists to take part in a consultation about the project, which closes this Sunday.

One of the four proposed main clauses drawn up for the guidance implores publishers to avoid using the term “accident”, stating “collision, or crash, are more accurate, especially when the facts of the incident are not known”.

It also urges reporters to “avoid using negative generalisations of road users, and must not use dehumanising language or that which may incite violence or hatred against a road user in comment and news coverage”.

Urging journalists to take part in the consultation, the Active Travel Academy’s Laura Laker said: “There are significant issues with how the media addresses road collisions, that we would like the guidelines to start to address.

“Research has demonstrated that how journalists describe and discuss crashes affects how people see the causes of and solutions to road danger.

“Not only that, it influences how we treat others on the roads – with research showing language that dehumanises increases aggression and violence between road users.

“The first draft of these guidelines has been produced with road safety, legal, media, academic and policing experts.

“We do not pretend to know all the answers, however. The more and broader insight and constructive feedback we receive, the better these guidelines will be, and the more likely they can make a positive difference to road safety.”

The draft guidance can be viewed here, while responses can be emailed to [email protected].