Cars are heavy machinery, complex instruments and very dangerous. Yet almost anyone over 16 can drive them, and keep driving them for long past their best-by date. My mom drove until she was 92 and they finally took her licence away; there are a lot of people who shouldn't be on the road. Yet when pedestrians and cyclists get maimed or killed, it is often called an "accident", even though there is really no such thing.
Yesterday in New York City, a man made "a driver's mistake." A city councillor tells the Daily News:
He was parking the car to drop his child off at school and he pressed in the gas instead of the brake. He thought he was slowing down but he pushed the gas and jumped the curb.
He mowed down five kids, three of whom have serious injuries. His Honda SUV, as can be seen in this Daily News Photo, has an after-market steel thing on front that blocks the shock-absorbing front bumper and probably significantly increased the carnage. Yet according to Streetsblog,
Here is a driver caught on video slamming into kids on a sidewalk. Despite clear evidence of negligence, it appears that neither NYPD nor District Attorney Richard Brown considers this a crime — and possibly not a traffic violation.
As reader BornAgainBicyclist pointed out today, that the victims suffered mere “non life-threatening” injuries seems to have absolved the motorist, at least as far as authorities and the media are concerned. No reports that we’ve seen have questioned how this driver would face no repercussions for mounting a sidewalk and mowing down five children.
As Aaron Naparstek points out in a tweet, the cops could have impounded the car, investigated phone records and looked into the black box that is in most newer cars. As a long time driver, I don't know how any reasonably competent driver could mix up the pedals like this unless they were seriously distracted. They could charge the driver for illegally modifying the safety devices on the car. Instead, it is all just an accident.
To add icing to this horrible cake, what does the principal of the school do? According to DNAinfo New York, Instead of asking "Hey parents, please don't run over our students," he writes:
We are sending you this notice pertaining to the safety of our students when travelling to and from school as an incident occurred today... All children must be encouraged to be aware of their surroundings when walking to and from the school. Headphones, CD players, iPods and any other electronic devices...can be a threat to their safety as they do not permit children to hear what is going on in their surrounding environment. Therefore we are asking that you keep your children free from using any listening devices when commuting so that they may be more in tune with their immediate surroundings...
..and jump out of the way when a car is driving on the sidewalk. None of the kids were wearing headphones, but once again, it is assumed that it is the pedestrian's responsibility to get out of the way or they are part of the cause of the "accident."
It's time to stop blaming the victims.