The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines “accident” as “an event that is without apparent cause, or is unexpected” and also as “the occurrence of things by chance; the working of fortune.”
When two drivers collide their vehicles on the road, or a driver of a vehicle hits a pedestrian or cyclist, it is rarely an “accident.”
There are causes, from a driver distracted by being on a call (hands free or not), to roadways improperly designed and not properly separating cyclists and vehicles, to people disobeying traffic regulations around speed and proceeding at intersections.
When we call road collisions “accidents”, we step away from anyone having any responsibility, and any urgency to make the changes in behaviour, laws, and environment that will lead to fewer deaths and injuries on our roads.
That urgency is the lifeblood of Vision Zero, the international movement dedicated to eliminating serious injuries and deaths on our roads.
Parachute, in partnership with Desjardins Insurance, has mounted a national awareness campaign to help Canadians take the first step on the Vision Zero journey: to understand, and agree, that when it comes to road collisions, “This was not an ‘accident’.”
Valerie Smith, Parachute’s Director of Solutions, is a board director for the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals (CARSP). She notes that public opinion still needs to rally around the concept that road collisions and the tragedies they cause are not shoulder-shrugging “accidents” about which nothing can be done. Says Smith: “We need to get this message out more widely.”
Parachute’s VP of Communications and Marketing, Kelley Teahen, worked with our partner Media City to develop the campaign, which features an image of the now-too-familiar roadside memorial of a bouquet tied to a roadside lamp post to mark the spot where someone was killed. “This was not an accident,” the text says. “Find out why.” The URL leads to the Parachute Vision Zero website.
Media City, a Toronto-based Outdoor Digital advertising company, has donated digital billboard space in summer 2019 for the campaign throughout Ontario, Alberta and B.C. Outfront Mediahas also agreed to donate space for the French language campaign in Quebec for the month of August.
In B.C., Parachute has partnered with The Community Against Preventable Injuries, a public awareness campaign around injury prevention based in British Columbia. The “Preventable” campaign has been spreading its messages on injury prevention for many years now, based on the premise: You already know this. Says their website: “The common thread linking all preventable injuries is attitude – a deeply held yet erroneous belief that preventable injuries only happen to ‘other people.’ ”
Using the distinctive yellow-on-black style of the ongoing Preventable campaign messaging, our “This was not an accident” slogan was adapted to “Still calling it a car ‘accident’? Seriously?”
Parachute was in market with this campaign in 2018, thanks to the generosity of Media City and Astral Media, drawing 44.8 million impressions.
In 2019, we using the same images and messaging and promote them widely on social media in the summer. If you see one of these billboards anywhere in Canada, snap a pic and share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtag #ParachuteVZ and let us know @parachutecanada.