Fatal-free adjective: plain wrong or new and shiny?

He says its wrong. She says its new.
When I comment on a surprising phrase, I'm usually more interested than judgemental. Was this a deliberately coined new expression? (Unlikely.) Was it a mistake? (Probably.) Either way, will it become popular?

This morning I was watching the 7 AM news on TV3. (On the exercycle, so there!)

Here's what the presenter said:

Police believe a record has just been set – a fatal-free long holiday weekend on the roads for the first time since records were first kept 60 years ago.

Say what? Fatal-free?

It's grammatically wrong, for sure. On the other hand, it's catchy. It's easy to say. Most people will assume it's a real expression that's been breeding live in the wild for some time. But I doubt that: Google showed only 2 obvious uses of fatal-free in this sense:

Where are you going, fatal-free? Into the vernacular? Into the dictionaries? Or into oblivion?


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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