See also: Road collision types

Traffic collisions can be classified by general type. Types of collision include head-on, road departure, rear-end, side collisions, and rollovers.
A traffic collision from 1952

Many different terms are commonly used to describe vehicle collisions. The World Health Organization use the term road traffic injury,[4] while the U.S. Census Bureau uses the term motor vehicle accidents (MVA),[5] and Transport Canada uses the term "motor vehicle traffic collision" (MVTC).[6] Other common terms include auto accident, car accident, car crash, car smash, car wreck, motor vehicle collision (MVC), personal injury collision (PIC), road accident, road traffic accident (RTA), road traffic collision (RTC), road traffic incident (RTI), road traffic accident and later road traffic collision, as well as more unofficial terms including smash-up, pile-up, and fender bender.

A rolled over box truck being
 handled by firefighters in Jakarta, Indonesia
Some organizations have begun to avoid the term "accident". Although auto collisions are rare in terms of the number of vehicles on the road and the distance they travel, addressing the contributing factors can reduce their likelihood. For example, proper signage can decrease driver error and thereby reduce crash frequency by a third or more.[7] That is why these organizations prefer the term "collision" to "accident". In the UK the term "incident" is displacing "accident" in official and quasi-official use.[8][9]

Historically in the United States, use of terms other than "accidents" had been criticized for holding back safety improvements, based on the idea that a culture of blame may discourage the involved parties from fully disclosing the facts, and thus frustrate attempts to address the real root causes