English vocabulary about accidents

I hope that you’ll never be involved in an accident, but if you have conversation about one, these words and phrases will be useful.

Types of accidents

a collision = when two vehicles drive into each other.
a mid-air collision = when two planes collide in the air
a head-on collision = when two cars collide front to front
a car crash = when there’s a serious car accident – involving another car or object, or not involving anything else
a derailment = when a train comes off the rails
a (multiple) pile-up = when more than one car crashes into another car, especially on a busy road or motorway

Describing an accident

An accident occurred / happened between two cars travelling in the same / opposite direction. One car was travelling at speed (at X miles per hour)

As the driver was rounding the corner, he drove straight into another car which was on the wrong side of the road. The driver lost control of the car and ploughed into the other lane / overturned / drove into an oncoming vehicle / into a tree.
As the driver was overtaking another / went through a red light / he drove straight into oncoming traffic
A lorry jackknifed, spilling its load over the road.
A car skidded on a wet / oily surface and the driver lost control.
The brakes failed / the car driver misjudged the distance.

The car was speeding / doing 80mph in a 30mph area.
The driver was under the influence of alcohol / drugs / on his mobile phone at the time.

The accident was due to pilot / human error.

The results of an accident

There were no fatalities (people killed)
Five people were taken to hospital with major / minor injuries / for shock.
The driver was shaken, but unhurt.
The passengers were escorted safely from the train.
Firecrews had to cut the passengers out of the wreckage.
The car was a write-off. (The damage was so bad there was no point in claiming insurance)
Fortunately, there was only minimal damage / we escaped with only a couple of scratches on the bodywork.