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Archive for the ‘The Accidental Journalist’ Category

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

Yup.  No way to see this one coming.

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Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2011 at 10:38 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

I couldn’t help but notice, reading about the tragic case of Aileen McKay-Dalton, which the NYPD has made — per usual — an absolute hash of, this early dispatch in the New York Daily News. The most charitable thing we might say about it was that it was a rush job.

Even though the article later notes that police were still investigating which of the two drivers ran the red light — and it now appears it was the SUV driver, who witnesses also say was speeding — the piece still frames the bulk of the article as to cast the burden of suspicion on McKay-Dalton. Calling it a “Vespa accident,” as if she somehow skidded out of control, the article then notes “McKay-Dalton was riding west on DeKalb Ave. when she collided with a 2005 Ford Explorer driving north on Clinton Ave., police said.” So even though the same article notes that police at that point didn’t know which driver had run the light, the construction of the sentence subtly attributes culpability to McKay-Dalton: “she collided with,” rather than, “she was struck by.”

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Posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 at 7:41 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
9 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

The mayor of L.A. is cut off by a taxi; it’s “his accident.”

I particularly enjoyed the rather abstract language near the bottom.

The LAPD issued a directive instructing officers that a motorist can be held responsible for causing a bicycle accident even if he or she did not make direct contact with the rider — and can be arrested for fleeing the scene, Box said.

In other words, striking a bike with your car is “causing a bicycle accident.”

(thanks Peter)

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Posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010 at 2:21 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
9 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

The first thing that jumps out in this piece is the identification of the victim as “homeless.” A subtle detail, or some kind of implied pejorative — hmm, maybe he was one of those crazy guys you see wandering willy-nilly across the street, and perhaps he was asking for it. Can you imagine the headline: McMansion Owner Struck and Killed by Car in Santa Barbara?

The victim had already been struck by a car before — the driver was cited with failure to yield — but the circumstances here beggar belief:

Castillo, according to McCaffrey, told investigators that he thought the man would clear the intersection before he drove through, but wound up striking the victim with the right front of his car. The victim was reportedly swept up onto the hood of the vehicle before falling to the pavement.

Yes, it’s always a good idea, when approaching an elderly pedestrian, to continue at speed in a multi-ton vehicle towards someone crossing in a crosswalk, owing to your own faith in your driving abilities and your estimation of their walking speed. There’s certainly nothing that can go wrong there, unless, oops, you have an “accident.”

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Posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2010 at 9:21 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

Reader Joshua points to this story, via The Strib. All the usual suspects: Alcohol, no belts, previous crashes.

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Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 at 7:05 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
7 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

Alcohol-impaired driving, despite a century’s worth of evidence of its dangers, still being couched in terms of an “accident.”

(thanks Rich)

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Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2009 at 8:19 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

C’mon, you guys make this way too easy.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – A man was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a DWI charge and numerous traffic violations after he slammed into a Baton Rouge police car early Friday morning.

Baton Rouge police arrested Leper Lewis, 49, of Baton Rouge in the crash. It happened around 1:30 a.m. on Evangeline Street near I-110.

Lewis was charged with second offense DWI, reckless operation, failure to maintain control, driving on the wrong side of the road, expired driver’s license and no insurance.

According to police, he hit the police car after coming around a curve in the wrong lane on Evangeline. The collision was almost head-on and the impact spun the police unit around and off the road.

The 31-year-old corporal suffered only minor injuries and was okay. His police dog was also fine. However, the corporal’s police-issued 2008 Dodge Charger was heavily damaged and had to be towed from the scene.

It received some damage to the front of it and along the side. The entire length of the passenger side of the police car was damaged.

The other vehicle was damaged to the point where it had to be towed as well. Its damage was primarily to the front of the car.

The officer was patrolling in the 2500 block of Evangeline when the crash occurred. The street was temporarily closed to traffic while police investigated the accident.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 8:43 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Police say Hunt told them shortly after the May 2 accident that she was applying red polish to her nails as she drove at about 50 mph toward an intersection and did not see motorcyclist Anita Zaffke until after she hit her.

Zaffke, 56, who lived in Lake Zurich, was stopped at a traffic signal when she was struck.

The driver, by the way, was charged with reckless homicide.

(thanks Alex)

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Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2009 at 8:33 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

Via the Ithaca Journal:

ITHACA — The Tompkins County grand jury has indicted an Ithaca man in connection with an accident involving a motorcyclist.

The grand jury charged Larry Ross, 52, with second-degree vehicular assault, a Class E felony, along with criminal mischief, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated and driving with more than .08 percent blood alcohol content.

(thanks Brian)

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Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009 at 11:10 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
6 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist

From Time:

One state where a lot of public attention is being paid to texting while driving is New York. After several fatal accidents there involving text messaging, State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz says constituents began calling his office to demand action. He is now sponsoring a text message ban in the state assembly; the state senate has already passed a similar bill.

There are many words for what happens when people texting while driving crash, but “accident” is not one of them.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 2:18 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
1 Comment. Click here to leave a comment.

The Accidental Journalist (first in a series)

As this blog has noted before, the news media seems to go out of its way to avoid ascribing personal responsibility in any sort of traffic crash (I am now calling this segment ‘The Accidental Journalist’). I just came across this weird doozy of a sentence in this article, about a “problem” intersection in Georgia:

On Deans Bridge Road at Gordon Highway, rear-end accidents are occurring in the right-turn lanes.

Drivers are stopping at the yield sign and causing accidents for those not paying attention behind them. Mr. Cassell said officials are looking at correcting the problem with new lane striping.

Let me get this straight. Drivers are stopping at the yield sign, which they are required to do when there is approaching traffic, and thus “causing accidents” to the poor sods (or “causing accidents for,” in this article’s odd wording) behind them who are not, uh, paying attention. I propose this wording: Inattentive drivers are crashing into the unsuspecting behinds of law-abiding folk.

I’m also not sure how you fix rear-end crashes with lane striping, FWIW.

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Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009 at 6:16 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
12 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.
Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

Order Traffic from:

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Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from Amazon.co.uk.

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum
Toronto

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Communications.
Grand Rapids MI

 

 

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