Emergency services on scene at the intersection of Bowen and Meredith roads where two women were struck by a vehicle. (Submitted photo)

Emergency services on scene at the intersection of Bowen and Meredith roads where two women were struck by a vehicle. (Submitted photo)

Editorial: We can all try to make Nanaimo’s streets safer

In crash reporting, we’re trying to use clear language, not apportion blame

If pedestrians are being struck by vehicles, then the streets aren’t safe.

We know that already – as children, we’re taught to look both ways before crossing the street; as teenagers, we don’t get our driver’s licence until we understand the rules of the road.

The News Bulletin reported on a couple of incidents last week in which pedestrians were struck by vehicles; in each case, a person was taken to hospital.

As is always the case when we publish articles about these sorts of incidents, we had readers telling us our headlines weren’t worded correctly, that it was drivers – not their vehicles – who hit the pedestrians.

They’re not wrong, but neither were our headlines. It’s generally the force of thousands of pounds of metal or the resulting fall that’s causing injury or worse. Of course it was the driver who was steering. We know it’s almost never the vehicle itself that’s to blame; however, in the immediate aftermath of a collision, we aren’t looking to apportion blame. First responders themselves aren’t usually exactly sure how the accident happened when they arrive on scene. In the absence of all the facts, we report the facts that we know at that moment – that a person was struck by a vehicle, that the person was injured, that the person was taken to hospital, that police are investigating.

We invariably mention that someone was driving the vehicle, it’s just usually not in the headline, because we’re looking to write something readable, sensible and clear.

We don’t intend to blame or shame victims. We do photograph a lot of car crashes and print a lot of articles, editorials, beefs and letters to the editor with different perspectives on driving, active transportation, road safety, speed limits and the like.

All of us use Nanaimo’s streets, one way or another. They aren’t always safe. We can blame one another, but wouldn’t it be better if we were to look out for one another?

RELATED: Two women struck by vehicle at Nanaimo intersection

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