Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Person in Truck on I-5 Strikes and Kills Man Trying to Cross

Today's article
From today's paper:
A Nevada man has been identified as the pedestrian who died after getting hit by a vehicle south of the Kuebler Boulevard overpass on Interstate 5 Saturday night.

Kirk Daniel Wilcox, of Sparks, Nevada, was dressed in dark clothing when he was hit by a pickup when he tried crossing I-5 from the center median across three southbound lanes around 8:55 p.m., according to Oregon State Police.

The 2015 GMC pickup towing an enclosed cargo trailer tried to avoid hitting Wilcox, but struck him with the right nose of the pickup.
the first article
Just a few notes:
  1. A robot car struck and killed a person in Tempe earlier this month. By contrast, on this occasion there was a human fully responsible for the operation of the vehicle, and a "truck" didn't suddenly veer off, act autonomously, and strike a person on foot. "the 2015 GMC pickup...tried to avoid...struck him." Stop erasing the driver! The subject of the sentence is Christopher Scott Linn of Albany. Fixed it: Christopher Linn tried to avoid hitting Wilcox but struck him with the nose of his pickup.
  2. Is it necessary to say the person was wearing "dark clothes"? These things are always so quick with the victim blaming. Well before we learn anything about the person driving, the person ostensibly in charge of operating a motor vehicle, we get the "bad pedestrian" trope. Notice the yellow highlight in each of the stories.
  3. At the same time, yeah, the Interstate is the one place inside the city where priority rightly goes to cars and their drivers, and no amount of engineering or culture change is going to make it a good place for crossing on foot. Whether a person was wearing dark or illuminated clothing, 55+mph is a long stopping distance.
  4. Probably this is more a story about homelessness or mental illness than a story about traffic safety. But we don't know! Maybe Wilcox had a stalled car and was seeking help. Reporters and police statements should be more neutral in the early stages of a crash investigation, not so quick with the victim-blaming and driver-absolving.
Postscript, April 6th

Columbia Journalism Review - via twitter
We'll come back to this probably. The Columbia Journalism Review finally addresses the autoist bias in so many news stories about collisions with people on foot and on bike.
She ran into traffic. He was wearing dark clothing. They didn’t use the crosswalk. In the aftermath of crashes between drivers and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, there’s a tendency to blame the victim. It’s just one way the media fails to properly cover traffic collisions, according to a new report from MacEwan University.


Walker said...

“Was killed” ... like “man fatally shot by police” — it’s all about suppressing agency by the one pulling the trigger/driving the car, directing causality at the victim rather than the actor.

Every time I read a headline or sentence phrased in the language of non-responsibility, I hear “The passive voice was used” in my head.

Anonymous said...

Here's a piece on an academic study of the rhetoric and erasures...it starts with "passive voice" just like Walker says.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added a clip and link to a piece in the Columbia Journalism Review that picks up on the same study referenced in the Streetsblog link. It's nice to see Journalists begin to think about this and for the conversation to get outside of the streets advocacy world.)