Wednesday, February 01, 2017

"Car-centric policy dominates our legal system and the way police conduct business. And it's not holding people truly responsible."

Lest those of us who aren't employed by the city of New Albany forget:

ON THE AVENUES: For New Albany’s Person of the Year, the timeless words of Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

I'd accuse City Hall of forgetting about Chloe Allen, although I'd hate to intrude on the image-burnishing and self-referential promotion that fills the languid days for Mayor Gahan's minions.

Yes, I'd accuse City Hall of forgetting about Chloe Allen, but let's be fair. The minions wouldn't even know who I was referring to.

That's how completely out of touch they are.

It's not just an accident, by Nathaniel M. Hood (Strong Towns)

Car-centric policy dominates our legal system and the way police conduct business. And it's not holding people truly responsible.

Hood tells of a horrible and inexcusable "accident" that took place on a shared use path where autos are not even supposed to be.

You guessed it. No charges.

It goes beyond not investigating something that so clearly should have been investigated. More often than not, reckless drivers do not lose their license and stay on the road. And, when a collision does occur and it’s not investigated, insurance laws can make it difficult to prove damage in a civil suit without charges and the dollar amount on damages can be capped.

This is the system we've created; one that favors drivers at nearly every level. It's unfortunate that car culture dominates our system and law enforcement so much that it doesn't hold people responsible. And until it truly does, we're not going to see as much progress as we need. Changes to laws and public mindset must happen in tandem with changes to the design of our streets. We need to reorient our understanding of transportation to value the safety and rights of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users just as much as drivers.

The top comment to this post reinforces a point we've made previously -- again and again.

With apologies to those who know that I harp on this here and elsewhere, I need to continue pointing out that part of this problem is linguistic. Law enforcement officers automaticaly assign agency to vehicles, which cannot be prosecuted, instead of drivers who can. A car did this, a truck did that. How glorious it must be to operate machines that offer such speed, power, and control, and know that your blunders, no matter how deadly, will always be attributed to the vehicle.

The media then dutifully follow suit. Reporters, who are trained to avoid passive voice, can get very huffy when you challenge them to change "A pedestrian was struck and killed by an SUV" to "A SUV driver struck and killed a pedestrian." They seem to think that active voice wording implies malicious intent or opens them up to a libel suit.

If this premature exoneration annoys you as much as it annoys me, I invite you to start calling it out with the hashtag #DriverNotCar.

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