Request for more appropriate Road Traffic Collision reporting

We are requesting that a more appropriate Road Traffic Collision reporting when it comes to the standard of wording used when reporting road traffic collisions between vulnerable users and motor vehicles. There is a need for a shift to move our minds away from a victim view of collisions in order to look more appropriately at where collisions come from in our society.

The current practice sees headlines such as;


“Cyclist in his 40s killed in morning collision with van”, Irish Independent, 17 Oct 2015


“Woman injured after being hit by a car in Fairview, Dublin”, Irish Times, 19 Oct 2015

These headlines and opening paragraphs fail to mention that there was another human involved, the driver of the respective vehicle. It is of upmost importance to mention the driver with a higher degree of importance than the type of vehicle and the victim in these collisions.

It is also noted that the use of the word “accident” should not be used when referring to traffic collisions. The word accident can be defined as “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally”. I’m sure most collisions are unintentional, but we couldn’t say they are unexpected given that the overwhelming majority of collisions are driver error and avoidable.

Therefore, we recommend the importance of using a hierarchy of collision when setting a a headline to avoid victim blaming assumptions. We advise mentioning the person involved with the following hierarchy,

  1. The driver
  2. The motorcyclist
  3. The cyclist
  4. The pedestrian

The headline “Cyclist in his 40s killed in morning collision with van” would instead read “Van driver involved in fatal collision with cyclists in Donegal”.

The headline “Woman injured after being hit by car”, would read better as “Driver in Fairview collision leaves woman injured”.

We ask that the time be taken to ensure that you are aware of the sensitivities needed when reporting road traffic collisions? Cyclists don’t fling themselves at motorised vehicles in order to die or be seriously injured as I am sure you will accept. I trust you will address this matter for future reporting.

ENDS

Press release
Thursday, October 29, 2015

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