A small shift in grammar will result in a large shift in perception
By Logan Fransman
Every day we turn on the radio, read the newspapers and see posts on social media telling us that people have died, been maimed, injured or possibly had a lucky escape after a horrific car crash. When listening to people about car accidents in Namibia, I’ve been noticing a pattern. Apart from the fact no one seems to care about the carnage on the road. We merrily continue to drive in the same insane fashion that we have come to expect on our roads. We play down accidents, crashes and terrible pile-ups by talking about “bumping” our cars. Bumping cars is what you do in bumper-cars at the fairground. On the road we crash, with all the nasty implications that the word ‘crash’ brings with it.
As the Director of the Namibian German Centre for Logistics, every aspect of road usage is of interest to me. Logistics is affected by how the road-users use the road and with the carnage, which we see and deal with every day; it damages the logistics and transportation sector of Namibia as well as the Namibian economy. Road safety is always high on the agenda in the Transport & Logistics sector, especially at our workshops and seminars. It needs to be as there seems to be no change whatsoever in Namibian drivers’ mentality.
Getting back to the difference between a ‘bump’ and a ‘crash’, a bump sounds innocent, pleasant even. There’s nothing more fun that ‘bumping into a friend’ unexpectedly. No one unexpectedly ‘crashes’ into a friend or loved one and follows that story with…’and we had a great time.’ A ‘crash’ conjures up scenes of twisted metal, broken and bruised bones, or speaking from an economic perspective; a dire economic meltdown. None of which are good.
The sooner we start using ‘crash’ when describing road accidents, the sooner we will start changing our mentality. Getting a phone call from a loved-one telling you, they bumped their car does not make a person overly concerned. Someone ‘crashing their car’, is a different story. You assume the car is a write-off, injuries are involved and your level of concern and worries are much higher. This is a mind-shift that we need to make a reality in Namibia. It may sound drastic, but the sooner we start calling the horrific beast of road deaths and carnage by their proper names the sooner we may stop being so desensitized by car accidents and fatalities on our roads.
We really need to make a change if we want to bring down the number of road deaths, injuries and economic costs of car accidents. Let’s call it as we see it and call them ‘crashes’ and not bumps.