Given the significant potential for harm associated with driving and the inequity in deaths, one would expect a high degree of responsibility and accountability to be placed on drivers. The unfortunate reality however is that driving is so pervasive in our culture that when a tragedy occurs on our streets, we as a society are often quick to protect the drivers, rather than the most vulnerable.
To see what I mean, carefully read the following news headline from the Toronto Star on a tragic fatality that occurred last month in Scarborough:
“A 6-year-old boy has died after being struck by a vehicle while walking home from school in Scarborough Friday afternoon, Toronto police said.”
Notice anything peculiar? Probably not, because this is the phrasing that is commonly used by the media when reporting road deaths. If you read carefully though, you’ll notice that the sentence doesn’t actually mention the driver of the vehicle.
Technically speaking, a vehicle did strike and kill the 6-year-old boy, but the vehicle did not act on its own. That vehicle was operated by a human being – a driver – trusted with the responsibility of operating a 2,000-pound potentially-lethal machine in our public streets, which are ripe with hazards and vulnerable users. Was the driver at fault for the boy’s death? That doesn’t matter – the point is that the driver was operating the vehicle which caused the death, making them directly involved in the incident.