The Times and traffic “accidents”

Here is an abridged version of a Times article that ran today.

Boy and Elderly Man Killed in Separate Traffic Accidents

A boy and an elderly man were struck and killed on Friday in separate traffic accidents on the Upper West Side.

The boy, 9, was trying to cross West End Avenue at 97th Street with his father around 9 p.m. They were both hit by a taxi making a left turn onto West End Avenue, the police said.

The elderly man, 73, was hit by a private tour bus at about 8:25 p.m. as he tried to cross Broadway at West 96th Street, the police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police are investigating both accidents.

By using the term “accident” to describe both of these tragedies, the Times is saying that they were completely unavoidable. (“Oops!” said the taxi driver, perhaps. “It was an accident! I couldn’t have been paying more attention.”)

In this, the paper of record is nearly a year behind the NYPD in shaping up its lexicon.

It’s also at odds with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, the goal of which is to eliminate pedestrian traffic deaths within ten years. Many cities have shown that it’s possible; Portland, for example, saw not a single cyclist fatality in 2013.

If you agree this needs to change, I invite you to email the Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, with your thoughts. Her address is public@nytimes.com.

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