Motorist, not Car, Claims Life of S.F. Pedestrian
Errant vehicles seem to be barreling and bumping along San Francisco streets injuring and killing pedestrians and bicyclists, at least according to much of the local media. Consider these reports from the last two days alone:
- "A woman was seriously injured when she was struck by a vehicle on San Francisco's Mission Street early Tuesday morning." KCBS News report, Feb. 24, 2010
- "A teenager was hit by a pickup truck in the Sunset district this morning and was transported to a hospital." SFExaminer.com report, Feb. 24, 2010
- "A pedestrian running to catch a bus was seriously injured this afternoon when he apparently tripped and the bus ran over him." ABC7News report, Feb. 23, 2010
In these cases, the car, the truck, and the bus were operated by individuals; the vehicles were not running amuck of their own accord. A motorist, a truck driver, and a bus operator struck or ran over pedestrians and seriously injured them.
One or other of the parties may bear all or some of the responsibility when a collision occurs, but the individual operating the vehicle nevertheless was the one who struck and injured the non-motorist. Granted, reporters sometimes refer to the driver in follow-up sentences or paragraphs but the first impression and the emphasis is on the vehicle.
(It's the same for bicyclists who sometimes -- but not as often as many people think -- hit and injure pedestrians on the street or sidewalk. Whatever the right-of-way issue in these cases, the person on the bike hit the person on the street or on the sidewalk).
There's no need to argue about the "politically correct" way to describe collisions that disrupt lives, cause injury and sometimes kill other road-users. The issue is not correctness. The concern is the tendency to not hold motorists responsible for what they do with their vehicles. The goal proposed here is not to "police" news reports or deprive editors of their brief headlines. The intent is to describe accurately what occurs -- "motorist hits pedestrian."
Last September the collision that killed a young woman on a North Panhandle street was reported by the SFExaminer.com with this headline: "Car Claims Life of San Francisco Pedestrian." No, a 19-year-old man struck and killed the young woman on the street.
5:30 pm addition: Sometimes pedestrians have "accidents" that apparently don't even involve vehicles, as sfist noted about the South of Market collision cited first in the list above. That blog's headline reads: "SOMA Pedestrian Accident Blocks Mission Street." In the brief article that follows there's not even a mention of a vehicle or a driver involved.