"public-safety campaigns have tended to focus more on pedestrian behavior."

Wear light clothing and bright colors.
Walk so you can see opposing traffic.
Don't be distracted while walking near the roadway.
Don't go out at night.

Gee, what does this sound like?!?

Maybe, just like men SHOULDN'T RAPE WOMEN, we could get the message out that
I wouldn't say that analogy works though. Rapists purposefully, knowingly, and willingly go out and commit their crimes. Drivers don't. Most drivers don't actually want to hit and kill anyone; whereas rapists do want to rape.

That said, it is pretty terrible. Everyone should be much more vigilant and observant. Pedestrians and drivers both should always be aware of what's going on around them.
Thank Dan Savage. This same thing has happened in New York City repeatedly, and the NYPD frequently release statements that "no criminality is suspected" within hours of a pedestrian death at the hands of a reckless driver. Here to, the NYPD, the Mayor, and drivers would rather hector pedestrians than enforce basic traffic safety laws. Of course how a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk is supposed to act more cautious isn't explained. Meanwhile the state legislature won't permit the city to install more than 125 traffic cameras in a city with thousands of miles of roads, and those camera are limited to areas around schools, because who cares if an adult is killed.

Unlike other cities, however, the NYPD would rather dress up in military gear, and claim to be defending the city from "the terrorists," but I'm more concerned about being killed by a reckless driver from an outer borough, than being blown up by a jihadist. And why engage in the bread and butter of local police work when you can do something fun like stand around in body armor and an automatic rifle while staring at your cell phone. So while the NYPD has 550 person anti-terrorism unit, the collision investigation squad consists of only 22 officers, 2 sergeants, and a lieutenant.
A huge number of pedestrians are also car owners who just parked and are now crossing the street. If we're supposed to have a "war on cars" now, maybe hitting those pedestrians so they'll never drive again is something that lefty elites should consider - if they want to be consistent.
@3 Urgutha: I agree that the careless drivers lack the intent that a rapist does. But so do drunk drivers - they don't plan on killing other drivers. Yet we (now, in the last few decades) hold drunk drivers to greater account for their actions, viewing their choice to drink & drive as increasing to their culpability.

Full disclosure: a bicycling friend was killed and a dear, old friend of mine was widowed by a distracted driver 5 years ago.

I'd like distracted driving elevated to a similar status as DWI in criminal statutes and to generate a similar amount of moral outrage from the public. We've seen big reductions in DWIs since MADD's campaigns, changed laws, penalties and public perception. The stuff on one's smart phone is going to keep getting more tempting and engaging in the years before self-drive cars get to the masses.

My analogy was not to suggest an moral equivalence of rape and distracted driving but to point out the parallels in the victim blaming in both realms and the current lack of accountability for distracted drivers.
Toronto police couldn't prove Taylor was using her cellphone while she was driving...

But she probably was.

Many people are utterly transfixed by their cellphones. Staring at the countless fascinating things on their screen is far more important than mundane matters like looking where they're going while driving.
@7 and in general - the whole thing is, or at least can be, problematic. On the one hand, unlike drunk driving, unless you have something like an identified-to-the-second call or text, it can be impossible to prove the "distractedness" of the driver. And on the other, if you make the simple fact of having hit a pedestrian evidence in itself of "distraction", you are eliminating the possibility of something getting in a driver's eye, a sudden noise, a reflection, etc., etc., providing a non-self-induced 'distraction' and just making hitting a pedestrian a guaranteed crime, which seems to imply something like there are no genuine accidents in the world.

I'm not trying to minimize the importance of text- and phone-free driving; just that this whole situation is not an easy one to resolve.
There's the rub, proving drunk driving in court is a matter of providing breathalyzer or blood test results. Empirical data backs up the claim. Proving "distractedness" is much more difficult. In a sense, it comes right back around to the rape analogy. Difficult to prove without witnesses or other empirical evidence (e.g., security cam footage). Without that, it often comes down to character, which is truly unfortunate (but a wholly different topic).
@10: As mobile apps and their operating systems are designed to conserve battery life, it's quite possible that no evidence of activity existed unless there's a trail of GPS or phone call or an application persisted data at the time.
@2 No. You're right.

I urge you to wear dark clothing, walk so you can't see opposing traffic, be distracted and keep your snout in your handheld device and not be aware of your surroundings.

Furthermore, walk out into traffic without looking both ways. Trust me. You performing these actions will be doing the world a favor.
@9 and @11: Do you really believe that "something getting in a driver's eye, a sudden noise, a reflection, etc., etc." are even reasons that people hit pedestrians, let alone even the smallest percentage of reasons that drivers hit pedestrians?

In any event, the answer is targeting drivers that fail to obey traffic safety laws. In New York City, the speed limit has been reduced to 25 MPH, yet in the most crowded urban environment in North America, automobiles, including truck, routinely drive well in excess of that speed. Drivers also fail to obey traffic signals, including slowing down for a yellow light and continuing through an intersection with a red signal. Drivers also fail to slow down when their view is obscured, such as when they are making turns. The NYPD rarely stops drivers on city streets, but I strongly suspect that if drives were regularly ticketed until the vast majority of drivers we obeying traffic safety laws, there would be few pedestrians killed in New York City.

Hi - I have a close friend who has been an auto insurance claims adjuster for 25 yrs. He just read this post and wants me to say that the #1 cause of accidents, by far, is driver inattention. This is widely known and has been true as long as there have been moving vehicles, ie decades before the advent of cell phones.

The very fact that the car left the road and drove onto the sidewalk means that driver will be considered 100% at fault. It doesn't matter why it left the road and drove onto the sidewalk - the driver obviously fucked up and the insurance will pay, as a result. Just as it would for a drunk driving case.

Also, per my friend, if the car that killed this pedestrian was insured, that insurance policy on that car would pay out money to the family under the liability insurance section of the policy. In Ontario - we just checked - the minimum liability amounts for auto insurance policies is $200k per accident. Meaning, very likely, at least $200k will or has been paid out to the family. If the policy had higher limits, like say $500k, then potentially that amount would be paid out. In addtition, if Canada is anywhere near to how it is in the US, if the pedestrian owned an insured car or if even a family member of hers owned an insured car, the family could tap into that car or cars' insurance policy limits, as well. Rest assured, there will be a fuck of a lot more money paid out to the family than $1k or $2k.

Finally: traffic fatalities have actually reduced in number, at least here in the US, since the advent of cell phones. They have not increased - they have reduced. They are still bad - tens of thousands still die on the roads every year, again, almost all preventable because the accidents were caused by something as needless and stupid as driver inattention - but given the ubiquity of cell phones, if they were the cause of fantastic amounts of disracted driving, the fatality rates would have shot through the roof by now - like a hundredfold - yet have not.

@16- "Meaning, very likely, at least $200k will or has been paid out to the family. If the policy had higher limits, like say $500k, then potentially that amount would be paid out. In addtition, if Canada is anywhere near to how it is in the US, if the pedestrian owned an insured car or if even a family member of hers owned an insured car, the family could tap into that car or cars' insurance policy limits, as well. Rest assured, there will be a fuck of a lot more money paid out to the family than $1k or $2k."

Who the fuck cares what the insurance company pays the family? That isn't a penalty to the driver. There's no stick to make drivers behave better. You kill someone because you're careless with you car and you get fined a grand, face six months of restrictions on your license, and your insurance goes up a bit... Pretty paltry for killing someone.
Canada has a "Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle" offense in the criminal code that seems like it could very easily have applied here:…

But from what I understand, it seems to rarely be applied in cases like this.

And @16 - in my experience, insurance companies don't just pay out stuff like that unless they are forced to. I read in another article that the family of the deceased is suing the driver, so it certainly sounds like that's what happened in this case as well (because if the insurance company had paid out, it would have settled any liability on the driver's behalf). So a big chunk of that settlement money is going to be going to lawyers instead of the family.
JSYK Dan: The $2000 fine, (and/or six months in jail), would be if the only charge was the provincial charge of "Careless Driving". A criminal charge of "Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle Causing Death" has a potential punishment of up to 14 years in prison. The latter being a criminal offence rather than a traffic offence does place a much stricter burden of proof on the Crown however.

#13: Remember that there are charges based around neglect where the intent stems from choosing to do something without proper due care.

17 & 18 ... Fuck's sake ... The reason I brought up money is because Dan brought up money. Did you not read what he wrote? Goes wthout saying that the family would rather have their loved one alive than money - nobody needs to be told that, but Dan's post probaby gave some readers the impression that the family would end up with a tiny sum of 'compensation' for their extraordinary loss. If the driver was insured, this is not the case at all. And the family is suing on top of that, so will likely get even more. Okay? So thanks.
Per my totally non-scientific observations in South Lake Union, between 10-33% of rush-hour drivers were holding cellular phones depending on traffic conditions. What will it take to turn the tide in this war? Tagging photos with license plates? Tagging cars with spray paint?
The cops in the US don't give a crap about supporting the laws on the books. I see pedestrians pushed out of crosswalks all the time. I even once saw a police car not yield to a pregnant woman pushing a stroller. He passed right in front of her while she was in the middle of a 4 lane street, inches from the stroller. He was looking straight ahead, so I assume he saw her. The woman yelled at him, but he didn't stop.

I walk an hour through city streets and the crap I've seen... I assume every car I see is a potential death sentence. It's kept me alive these last 21 years and 20,000+ miles on city streets.
Dan, you are simply wrong to criticize the decision here. There isn't any evidence the driver did anything wrong. Maybe she did, but such could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt (the same standard for criminal conviction is used here and in Canada). Do you want to change that standard for deaths caused by vehicles? You use of the quote, "drivers are responsible in the majority of pedestrian deaths." Well, of course, there isn't much else to die from being a pedestrian, particularly in Canada. Maybe in LA or Chicago with a drive-by shooting, but seriously, some is going to die of cancer for being a pedestrian? The driver didn't take the stand? Gee, both are countries have the right not to be forced to testify against ourselves. Is that the change you want? What do you want the punishment for "Careless Driving" to be? Particularly given the vast majority drive carelessly for some few minutes every time we drive.

Not everything bad needs to be criminalized or punished heavily. I suspect Ms. Taylor, being clearly cognizant of the results of her actions, and living with that the rest of her life, will be sufficiently punished for a momentary lapse in judgment.

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