Blame the victim (again and again)

Even when the circumstances in pedestrian deaths clearly point to driver error, Toronto police don’t hesitate to point the finger at the person who wasn’t behind the wheel of the vehicle:

Sgt. Tim Burrows said the victim was crossing slightly west of the crosswalk at the intersection.

“It’s difficult to determine who is at fault,” he said. But he added the pedestrian was crossing in a way that was “not predictable and not the safest place to be” but was walking on a green light.

“I’d rather just say that road safety is a shared responsibility and everyone has to do their part and abide by the laws and common sense.”

I’m sure that’s what he’d rather say, because to say otherwise would suggest that the pedestrian was not at fault and, like the vast majority of those struck down by cars in the last couple of weeks, had every right to expect to make it across the street alive if every user of the road was alert and obeying traffic law.

However, it’s just dishonest. If the pedestrian was crossing Davenport “slightly west of the crosswalk” while the car coming north on Symington was turning left, i.e. west, on a green light, the driver could not have been looking while making the turn or else she (as the story reports her to be) would have seen the pedestrian. Take a look at the intersection in Google Street View if you doubt me.

Comments sections of the major papers, always depressing, are full of self-righteous drivers who complain of pedestrians who “dart in or out of traffic.” Toronto police seem to have decided that, all evidence to the contrary, this “darting” phenomenon is the cause of pedestrian-car accidents and is pulling walkers aside to reprimand them for jay-walking — which, of course, is legal as long as you’re not right beside a crosswalk. Wouldn’t it make more sense to educate drivers on that point so they’re keeping an eye out for legal crossers? Perhaps the fact that most of the accidents have actually happened at crosswalks is telling? And I know it’s a lost cause, but perhaps some real, sustained traffic enforcement is a thought?