The first is full of the passive voice and focuses on the vehicles as the main grammatical subjects and as the agents. "A man was killed...after his car was rear-ended...it was rear-ended by a commercial motor vehicle."
Last month there were a couple of other clear contrasts:
|Active: "A driver crashed through the front doors"|
|Passive: "a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle"|
But when there is the prospect of an error by a person on foot, or dark clothing, or fog, we assimilate the crashes to the blameless category of "accident" and resort to the passive voice and erasing the driver. But even in poor visibility, drivers are responsible for the safe operation of a vehicle, and we should change our expectations about things like the basic speed. At the very least, crash reporting should employ more neutral language, and not rush to exonerate drivers and dispace blame onto the mysterious operations of a vehicle that somehow crashed into a thing/person/car.
|Columbia Journalism Review|
Addendum, December 14th
|This is more obituary than news story, but it still erases the driver|