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Show HN: Identify car crash editorial anti-patterns using NLP (visionzeroreporting.com)
344 points by chiefofgxbxl 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 205 comments





Hi HN,

I built "Vision Zero Reporting" (https://visionzeroreporting.com), a tool to detect editorial anti-patterns in local news coverage of car crashes.

Maybe you've noticed that local news articles about car crashes, especially those that involve "vulnerable road users" (VRU) such as bicyclists and pedestrians, tend to employ language that seems to blame the victim or only discuss the incident as an isolated event, rather than in context that crashes are preventable and are caused by specific reasons.

This tool is meant to help news publishers check their articles and learn the anti-patterns to avoid.

Here's a brief explanation of the problems my tool checks for:

1. Focus - Readers find the focus/subject of the sentence more in control of the situation, and hence more blameworthy (e.g. "A pedestrian was struck by a driver" VS "A driver struck a pedestrian").

2. Agency - Some sentences lack an agent altogether, which places more blame on the recipient (e.g. "A bicyclist was hit." VS "A bicyclist was hit by a driver.")

3. Object-based reference - Pedestrians and bicyclists are almost always referred to using people-based language, but drivers are referred to using object-based language 81% of the time [1] (e.g. "The vehicle fled the scene" VS "The driver fled the scene"). This language personifies and gives agency to vehicles rather than their drivers.

4. Accident - Accident is the most-used term in articles to describe the incident (47%). This term is being phased out by some news agencies because the word implies a sense of inevitability or that it happened purely by chance, when we know why car crashes happen and can take preventative action.

5. Framing - (still in beta) Articles employ an "episodic" frame, meaning they describe crashes as isolated incidents. Only 6% (!) of articles use "thematic" framing [1], meaning they contextualize the event by discussing road design, number of recent crashes in the area, quote experts, educate readers about road safety initiatives, etc.

6. Counterfactual - (still in beta) Counterfactuals are true statements, but imply the outcome could have been changed had the victim acted differently. While reporters may see these statements as sticking-to-the-facts, we've discovered in 700+ manually-annotated articles that counterfactuals almost always shift blame toward the victim (A bicyclist was struck; he wasn't wearing a helmet. It was dark outside, the biker wasn't wearing reflective clothing, and the driver told police he didn't see the bicyclist until it was too late.) Notice that all of these statements may be true, but goes hand-in-hand with the Framing issue discussed above: the bicyclist was hit, but is that because there is no protected bike lane? It was dark outside, but is road visibility a municipal obligation?

I'm looking for constructive feedback to make this tool better!

My work is based primarily on the following research papers (and I've already shown the tool to the authors - they loved it!):

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330975590_Editorial...

[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337279845_Does_news...


This is neat, but something bugs me about the framing of the intended goal versus how you propose to get there.

If the intent is to raise public awareness and to put pressure on leadership to make roads generally safer, why do almost all the corrections follow a pattern of shifting blame from the individual pedestrian onto the individual driver? Many of the suggested fixes are just their own form of counterfactual - they're facts, sure, but they don't contribute to public understanding of _why_ the crash happened.

The examples of removing counterfactual outright and including thematic framing (focusing on road conditions, frequency of crashes, and aggregate statistics that tell the story of how often crashes occur) seem to be the best set of suggestions for correcting public perception on road safety. Not making sure the public knows this _one specific driver_ hit a pedestrian, rather than their car.


One way to make roads safer is to make better drivers. There is a lot of training and continuing education that can be done to make better drivers. It is far too easy to drive, and once you get your license it is very hard to lose it even as your body degrades to the point you cannot see. People think of bad driving tickets (mostly speeding) as just a price you pay to drive. I've never heard of someone getting a tailgating ticket even though it is rare to see someone maintain their proper following distance in traffic.

Don't take the above as excusing bad road design.


I live in the USA. My friend Kristin is from Germany. She got her driver's license in Germany when she was 28. She trained awhile for it and then took 3 tests: city driving, highway driving, and nighttime driving. From how she described it, the training and the testing was much more rigorous than anything that has existed in the USA.

I live in Ireland, used to live in the US, and had to take the Irish driver training and test as an adult, experienced driver. (Who had been driving approx as long as my instructor had been alive).

The test was difficult, picky, and the things that they were looking for were not necessarily correlated with safe, strictly legal driving. (e.g., target speed in a 50KPH zone (urban area) was 53, not 49, and to not approach that with conviction made you a too timid driver.)

And despite the intensive tests -- drivers here are crap. On the dog walk tonight, there were 3 cases of drivers failing to yield at crosswalks.


I know nothing about the infrastructure in Ireland, but the drivers in the US kill at least twice as many people. Letting people drive cars at 50 km/h in an urban area is crazy, everyone you hit at those speeds die.

I suspect it's well more than 2x the people, Ireland is only 5.5 mil total (essentially the size of Washington State).

We've got rural roads that are slightly more than one car wide, some with grass growing down the middle, and are signposted for 80kph. We've got motorways at 120kph.


What speed in miles would you think is Apr. Because 50km/h give you pretty good relation time. The trick is not to get in a crash from the start

They just lowered it in Paris to 30km/h. Lower speed is directly correlated with less crashes. The other benefit is less noise, which is very important in an urban area. In most urban areas now the loudest most constant noise is from vehicles.

50KPH is the norm in any built up area, including in housing estates. Like a subdivision. That's 30mph, for a place where kids play in the green, cats dart out between parked cars, and there's tons of ped traffic.

Germany's training is easy compared to what would be required to make humans be good drivers.

There is only one actual practical driving test. Nighttime and Autobahn driving are just special lessons.

I think we're fine how it is in the USA. Germany's licensing system is absurd overkill and the cost and time commitment leaves out a lot of people who have a need to drive but can't afford it.

In 2019, USA rate of traffic-related deaths was 7.3 per 1 billion vehicle-km. Germany's rate was 4.2 per 1 billion vehicle-km.

If the USA had Germany's rate, 16939 lives would've been saved.

And you think that's "fine"?

Here's where I got my info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-r...


The US is so car dependent that it's very politically fraught to make it harder to get a driver's license. Not allowing a person to drive in much of the US is a matter of equity; people that can't drive can't make it to their jobs, can't buy their groceries, etc. What that means of course is that the US usually just knowingly increases the risk of non-drivers because of its brittle dependence on cars, and thus disincentivizes people in most parts of the US from ever not-driving. Woe to you if you don't drive because the US isn't setup for transit equity.

I dunno, some of this is also the fact the US people are huge babies about certain things, like being able to walk places. For example, there was a reddit thread from an American flabbergasted that people in the UK will actually go on 30-minute-long walks down to their local shops. Is a 30 minute walk really that absurd?

It's a set of interrelated issues. Much of the US is zoned/regulated to be friendly to drivers and not pedestrians. For an egregious example, most of Downtown LA (so not the suburbs) you can walk for 30 minutes and maybe only see 5 different stores. Because of this, American culture has stopped talking about walking. As such for a lot of Americans, walking for 30 minutes to get somewhere is absurd culturally, but driving 30 minutes to go to a store is much more acceptable.

You can see the effect even more when it comes to recreational hobbies and sports. Americans don't really just walk or bike around. Walking and biking/cycling are usually specific activities, so most Americans buy special exercise clothing or exercise gear to go (by car) to specific spots friendly for walking and cycling to perform their recreational activities and come back. Walking is still a popular casual activity in urban areas but in a lot of suburban areas there aren't even the sidewalks in place to make it safe to walk around. Most Americans only really dress/prepare for the walk from their house to the car and from the car to the store/office/destination, then back if they're not specifically out to perform their recreational athletic hobbies.


People in the US have developed an aversion to walking because our built environment makes it terrible. For example, watch this video from about 4:25 on showing a typical urban pedestrian journey the US:

https://youtu.be/uxykI30fS54

(One thing the narrator mentions is shade: Keep in mind that Houston is a hot city, with temperatures often above 30c during the summer.)

But that's not unusual at all. In fact, where I grew up in Pennsylvania many roads had literally no sidewalk.

Let's say I want to walk into town where my parents live. I'd be going down this road (you can follow along on street view):

https://maps.app.goo.gl/huqH4kcT3h667RZr7

That's a narrow road, but don't let it fool you. People there drive fast and they're in a hurry. They certainly do not expect to see someone trudging along the berm of the road. Or more likely in a muddy ditch beside the road, because Pennsylvania is wet and that's the safest way to not get hit by a car.

If you walk along into North Wales, PA, pay attention to the pedestrian infrastructure. Where are there sidewalks? Are there crossing signals? How would you know when it's safe to cross? Now imagine doing this in the evening (note: there are no streetlights).


A 30min walk would get me to two convenience stores and a doughnut shop. It would take me about 1hr to walk (briskly) to the nearest grocery store.

And I live in a city where the zoning can be described as "we'll rubber stamp literally anything that isn't hazmat processing we're desperate for money". And this is a ~150yo neighrborhood in a multi-hundred year old city in the northeast, not some socal dump that was built out long after the advent of cars.


> Is a 30 minute walk really that absurd?

Yes, because the number of stores in that 30 minutes is so low. Most of them are also setup for cars, including selling quantities that assume a car to get home.


Depending on region, a 30 minute walk can be dangerous to one's health due to hot, humid temperatures or smoke inhalation.

(Besides that, a 30 minute walk can be inconvenient- the stuff you're buying might not support being carried for 30 minutes. I tried to get a friend to consider giving up a car-based life and they asked me how they're going to move their stuff for LAN parties and gun hobby related activities.)


The lack of a license doesn’t necessarily prevent people from driving. Making it harder, or more severe punishments for poor driving, would not only result in fewer drivers on the road but also more “undocumented” drivers.

Indeed and this is yet another aspect of the car dependency trap. It's so hard to move around in the built environment without a car that individuals will rightfully ignore licensing requirements to tend to their own affairs. Once you force all of your infrastructure to be dependent on a single mode of transport, this mode becomes essential to functioning of the system. This is why it's so difficult to encourage multimodal transport in the US.

> The lack of a license doesn’t necessarily prevent people from driving.

OK, but you need to first decide whether the state should require a license to drive in the first place. And if it requires a license, whether this license should be required to identify you or not. Because you are going to have a hard time with a licensing system in which the license cannot identify the holder.

Maybe it shouldn't. That's a useful and honest discussion to have.

What is not a useful or honest discussion is whether we should require it but not really enforce the requirement.

If you require it, then you should enforce it, and you should not refuse to enforce it because you think that enforcing it does more harm than good. If it's really true than enforcement does more harm than good, then don't require it.

But this idea that group X should meet some standard, but group Y can meet a lower standard, is lawless and discriminatory. It violates the principle of equal treatment before the law, and it destroys the willingness of society to abide by laws. It creates a population of lawbreakers that can be the victim of selective enforcement, e.g. to punish enemies, while it rewards friends by promising to not enforce the laws. This is basically institutionalized corruption in the sense of the old machines like Tammany Hall. It's when you get to a situation where government can destroy enemies by deciding to enforce laws against them, because there are so many laws whose enforcement is arbitrary.

That goes for every aspect of controlling our borders and deciding who can come here. If you want to make an argument for open borders, go ahead. There is legit intellectual case to make for that.

But don't say, well, for one group we should enforce things but for another group we shouldn't, because then law abiding people end up waiting for years (my parents waited for 10 years to be able to come to the U.S. legally) while others just overstay their tourist visa (my mother's relatives did that).

That's discriminatory and lawless, and sets you up for a system in which those who obey the law are recognized as suckers and forced to subsidize those who do not.


I’m not sure I 100% follow. By “undocumented” I mean that their license has been revoked (and thus they have no insurance), or they never got one. They lack the document to legally drive.

> If you require it, then you should enforce it, and you should not refuse to enforce it because you think that enforcing it does more harm than good.

There’s a third situation: that enforcement is difficult. The last time I was pulled over was 19 years ago. If that situation had resulted in my license being revoked, I could have continued driving without my license for the next 19 years with no consequences (maybe registering my car under a family member’s name). But regardless, how would this be enforced on a wide scale? The authorities don’t have the resources to check that every person behind a wheel is carrying a license. So, these checks generally occur after an infraction.

My point is simply that revoking a license doesn’t necessarily take those people off the road.


My optometrist told me that when he first started his clinical practice he was shocked to discover how many people are driving around with serious visual impairment.

The amazing thing is how many of the most egregious incidents involve drivers with suspended licenses or no licenses. At the moment, in the US, due to bail reform consequences are minimal unless someone is actual killed.

That's just a reflection of the fact of how necessary cars are to a reasonable life. The state is naturally going to be reluctant to screw people out of their means to get to their obligations because the state doesn't want to create more people who are dependent on it.

> very hard to lose it even as your body degrades to the point you cannot see.

People bring this up often. As far as I can tell such people are not heavily represented in car crash statistics.


That is because it is impossible to measure: people tend to drive less as their vision degrades, vision degrades at different rates for different people (we can't use old as a proxy), they tend to mitigate their vision problems by driving slower. Probably other factors to account for too, that I don't know how to account for. Not heavily represented is not the same as not dangerous.

This is a complicated topic. One thing I can recall is that there's more pedestrian collisions as there's been more safety technologies and larger cars and average vehicle miles travelled (can't find the study, this might be a lead: https://safetrec.berkeley.edu/news/new-release-2020-safetrec... )

> People think of bad driving tickets (mostly speeding) as just a price you pay to drive.

Furthermore, we literally use the phrase, "never got so much as a speeding ticket" to suggest that speeding is the epitome of a minor, inconsequential infraction, when the reality is that we know speeding is a significant cause of and contributor to death, destruction, and injury in automobile crashes.


Predicated on having already crashed, the chances that speed was a contributing factor to the severity is very high. That's why people want lower speed limits.

Predicated on simply having been driving over the speed limit, the chances of an accident are very low. That's why people don't care about speeding.


This only captures crashes with other road users. Increased speed increases a lot of other risks, such as risk of injury to pedestrians at crosswalks or sidewalks, increased risk to hitting a building, and of course the general depressing effect that happens on non-car usage of roads (how many people will want to ride a bike on a road where all car drivers are speeding?).

(This is one of my big issues with US speed limits. All the discussion around it is always scoped only to other cars for the most part.)


I don't have these numbers, but I'm positive that the lifetime risk for having experienced a serious car accident (or any car accident for that matter) is strongly correlated with driving behavior and specifically speeding.

Second, there's the matter of just how damn uncomfortable it is to be around speeding cars when you're not also in a car yourself. People in suburbs don't really think about this because nobody walks anywhere. But I live in a walkable urban environment and the speeders here are an enormous hit to quality of life. They're louder, more aggressive -- it's just really unsettling to be around.

This can be hard to convince suburbanites of, because they conceive of themselves mostly as drivers and not as pedestrians, but even if there were no safety improvements, it would be a huge win for urban environments if we could rein in speeding.

But the reality is that it would also save ~6,000 lives a year in the U.S.


Every speeding ticket that I’ve gotten in the US was issued on a controlled access road with a speed limit of at least 55mph. None were for as much as 20 over. Most were from pack travel where deciding to travel at the posted limit would result in far more passing and aggregate risk to roadway users.

I do believe all of those are minor infractions (and of course they were inconsequential, except for the delay and expense [if convicted] of the ticket). Revenue enforcement here is mostly done on controlled access highways; it’s shooting fish in a barrel.


That's another part of this issue. Traffic enforcement in the US is more ideological than it is utilitarian. Automated enforcement tools like red light cameras and speeding sensors run into intense political pushback in the US. Speeding tickets are usually ways to boost revenue instead of actually trying to deter speeding behavior. Traffic stops are arbitrary and usually based on the political and ideological goals of the Police department and current local government party instead of actually trying to reduce traffic incidents. In fact, as far as I know, traffic incidents are mostly used to drive infrastructure changes instead of really feeding into changing traffic policing.

There's real political pushback from trying to actually decrease traffic incidents because actions to decrease these incidents result in higher overhead for current drivers, something historically lightly enforced.


>Automated enforcement tools like red light cameras and speeding sensors run into intense political pushback in the US

Of course they do. The laws they enforce with machine level reliability do not reflect the reality of how society behaves.

Nobody actually cares whether or not people obey the rarely relevant number on the sign so long as people travel a safe and reasonable speed.


The typical driver has no idea what a safe speed feels like. They routinely travel beyond the safe speed for a given environment. Charitably, they are unaware of the connection between their actions and the increased risk to pedestrians and cyclists. Uncharitably, they just don't care.

For example, did you know that the risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a moving vehicle is about 25% at 23 MPH but jumps all the way to 75% at 39 MPH. Do the people who routinely travel down my street at or near 40 MPH know this? They do not behave like they know this. They behave like they think 39 MPH is more or less the same as 23 MPH. They behave like they aren't aware of the non-linear increase in risk to everyone around them (because they aren't and they're operating climate-controlled machines that are designed to abstract away the environment outside the car).

Not to mention just how goddamn unpleasant it is to be around cars driving that fast on residential streets, even if they never hit anyone. It's loud, aggressive, and just downright uncomfortable for everyone not also in a car.


Just to add to this, though I'm obviously in agreement with you, is that most engines (gas or electric) used in US cars barely distinguish between 23 MPH and 39 MPH. You could probably just push your foot down a tad bit harder on the gas pedal and make up the speed differential. That's fine; many previous limitations on speed were based around actual deficiencies in automotive development (heavy car bodies, lack of synchros when shifting, heavy clutches, etc) but now that consumer vehicles can so effortlessly go from "0-60 mph" (the common metric used to judge acceleration of cars), it's harder than ever to educate folks on the effects of their speed.

This is a hugely important distinction. Unfortunately, speeding in urban areas — which is the kind of consequential speeding I care about — is still very common. If it were confined to the type of speeding you’re describing, then it wouldn’t matter (as much). But it’s not.

Oh please. This is the kind of comical rhetoric that gets road safety advocates ridiculed.

In practice speeding or at least the instance that resulted in getting ticketed is usually inconsequential.

Between highways signed well under the normal traffic speeds, revenue enforcement and fishing stops the overwhelming majority of speeding tickets are trivial. People engaging in the kind of speeding most people can agree is excessive are a tiny minority. If they weren't people wouldn't use a speeding ticket as the epitome of a trivial infraction.

Of course speed is a factor in death and destruction. That's tautologically true thanks to how the equations in Newtonian physics are written but you don't see anyone (who isn't getting laughed at) advocating for the return of the national speed limit for obvious reasons.


Pushing back on a banal, obvious truism like, "we know speeding is a significant cause of and contributor to death, destruction, and injury in automobile crashes" is the kind of comical rhetoric that should get drivers ridiculed. It really shows just how disconnected the typical beliefs about driving are from reality.

Trying to be charitable to both arguments:

- speed is obviously a factor, but there's a wealth of other factors. 90 on a clear highway with little traffic, and the driver is alert? Fairly safe. 90 while weaving between lanes, leaving little reaction time? Not safe. - drivers seriously overestimate their competence. Humans undervalue outlier events. This is the root of the stat about accidents occurring within a mile of home.

That's why we have generally-lax enforcement of motorway limits but "strict" enforcement of urban limits in the UK. I'm not asserting that we've got it right here, but it looks more sensible in my eyes.

Caveat: urban centres are increasingly adopting 20mph. I think there's a tacit understanding that people will drive at 27. When it was 30, they'd do 34, so that's a big increase in survivability.


Let's say all that is true. How does using a computer program to reword all traffic accident reports as being caused by drivers solve this problem? Doesn't it just make people trust accident reports less?

People reading the news aren't the only people who use traffic crash reports. They are also used (and can subtly influence) the people who make decisions about road planning. The culture we have of blaming pedestrians/cyclists and exonerating drivers (when, to be clear, the drivers are the ones creating the danger) leads directly to planning decisions that perpetuate road conditions that would be unconscionably dangerous in any other engineering field.

We need to limit speed and the amount of interactions between cars and pedestrians. This will necessarily be at the expense of the drivers who will have to drive slower and get less space since they have historically been prioritized.

It is much easier to implement the necessary measures (against the will of many drivers) if it is clear that drivers run over people, not that people accidentally end up under cars.


But the solution that comes out of that framing is to somehow shame drivers into being better, as opposed to making roads better.

Blaming the driver starts the root cause analysis in a different direction than blaming the pedestrian.

Neither solve the root problem - poor road design

Poor road design is mainly a political problem. We know how to make good roads, on the technical side it is a "solved problem", but we lack the political will to do it. So setting the proper framing did solve the root problem

Then target leadership. They're the ones responsible for building better roads (which is the whole advertised purpose of this project!).

Writing an NLP bot that rewords articles to blame the driver 100% of the time is nothing but an exercise in getting a nice revenge dopamine rush. But drivers aren't the ones building roads.


Leadership (politicians) respond to public sentiment and attitudes held by their constituents. They're not going to build safer streets, despite the benefits and means to do so, without the political will of citizens. Shifting the way the public perceives fatal car crashes would compel more people to bring up the issue with their local leaders and gather the momentum needed for such changes.

So this is purely propaganda, then? Ends justifying means and all that?

So shift focus towards how dangerous the streets are

> But the solution that comes out of that framing is to somehow shame drivers into being better, as opposed to making roads better.

This tool actually includes a recommendation called "framing" which asks writers to incorporate sentences specifically to highlight the systemic nature of the problem as opposed to blaming individual drivers. Click on one of the examples to see, explained at https://visionzeroreporting.com/issues#framing:

Article lacks thematic framing. Readers who encounter episodic frames tend to hold individuals responsible for negative outcomes and put less pressure on public leaders to make changes. [Learn more about framing]

SENTENCES None found.

HOW TO FIX Include at least 3 thematic elements.


"We need to limit speed and the amount of interactions between cars and pedestrians" doesn't sound to me like relying on shaming (which never works). Rather, it evokes like building e.g. walkways and bike paths that are physically separated from roads with cars. That is much more effective.

I agree that roads need lower speed-limits and to be made safer by their geometry. That's done by reporting on the unsafe conditions of the road.

It does no good to play this game of rhetoric, reframing the matter so the driver is at fault (which is not always the case). A driver does not decide to not run over a person because they think a news story will be more accusatory of them.


What I remember reading about the impact of speed limits is that reducing them only affects the slowest quartile or so of drivers while changes to road design such as reducing road width and visibility slow down almost all drivers. Reducing the speed of some drivers and not others increases aggressive driving and probably isn't good for safety.

I don't take the position that reducing speed is a good answer for every high-risk road situation, but for those where it is, changing the speed limit alone is likely a poor solution.


> reducing them only affects the slowest quartile or so of drivers

And having to navigate traffic that is not of a homogeneous speed creates cognitive load for all drivers. So then they don't notice things like cyclists and pedestrians.


That makes no sense. Mixed use and mixed speed creates an environment where drivers have to notice diversity of traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians.

> I don't take the position that reducing speed is a good answer for every high-risk road situation

Why not? There's clear evidence showing that crashes at higher speeds are much more deadly. IMO any street that allows pedestrians and bicycles should be designed for 20mph car traffic. If you want to drive faster than that, do it on a limited-access highway.


There are multiple solutions to your 20mph car traffic restriction, one of which is “disallow bicycles and pedestrians on this stretch of pavement”.

Limiting access to the road, e.g. using pedestrian overpasses, fencing, segregated sidewalks and bike lanes, etc... is among the options I had in mind. I don't think one solution fits every problematic road.

Roads aren't badly designed because no one has "reported" them. Improving roads for pedestrians needs to be a priority for politicians, instead of convenient commuting by cars. And for that to happen, voters need to see the world like it is: drivers run over pedestrians.

I agree, the best outcome would be if news stories said things like

* "5 crashes have happened at this intersection so far this year"

* "The speed limit at the crash site was 35, above the standard arterial speed limit of 25"

* "The road at the bend had sharrow markings, which cycling advocates say are ineffective and inferior to marked or protected bike lines."


Couldn’t part of the larger “why?” be that individual drivers are not sufficiently subject to liability for causing accidents with pedestrians, cyclists, etc.? If it is the case that it’s almost impossible for a driver to get in any trouble for causing such an accident (except in the most egregious cases of reckless driving) then it doesn’t make sense to avoid talking about that.

I can see value in not consistently talking about “btw killing someone with your car is basically a get out of jail card”. Most people probably don’t realize this.

(Or am I misunderstanding your last sentence?)


In all of these scenarios the driver is the better protected and less vulnerable participant.

Ideally we should be improving infrastructure to ensure that the risks created by high speed lumps of metal is reduced as far as practically possible. But until that happens, we have to acknowledge that in the majority incidents drivers are only ones capable of changing the outcome. Additionally drivers should take one a greater responsibility when operating vehicles in areas where they might encounter more vulnerable road users. Vulnerable road users will always end up paying a substantially greater price in any incident, so it’s reasonable to ask drivers to be more careful to avoid those incidents.


This is a great question and I agree with you entirely.

Ultimately, Framing (thematic vs. episodic) is the most important consideration for these articles. It's important for articles to discuss road design, safety initiatives, etc. in order to equip readers with the knowledge necessary to get governments to act.

However, Framing is also the most difficult pattern to detect simply because there are so many different thematic elements you can discuss, and many different ways to say each one. Here are a few examples:

- This is the 3rd pedestrian fatality this year.

- Residents have long complained about people racing down their street.

- Washington St. has had a long lasting problem with weather-related crashes.

- According to the NHTSA, there are X crashes per year related to prescription drug-induced drowsy driving.

- Street width directly correlates with driving speed, which in turn increases the time needed to react and brake.

I'm relying on manually annotated articles (700+ so far) and a custom-trained spaCy model to detect these elements, and the accuracy of that model depends on having enough training data. Since thematic elements are so rare in real-life articles, I'm having a difficult time providing enough training data. Hence why the tool emphasizes the other editorial anti-patterns, for now, but this will change once the Framing reporter gets better.

Anyone have any suggestions for augmenting my training set for thematic elements?


> If the intent is to raise public awareness and to put pressure on leadership to make roads generally safer, why do almost all the corrections follow a pattern of shifting blame from the individual pedestrian onto the individual driver?

I think "almost all" would have to include the various use of the word accident when the fault hasn't been fully determined. I've been following Project Zero for years now and that is a big part of our shtick. And that certainly is not shifting the blame from the pedestrian to the driver. It is merely removing a harmful assumption.


> why do almost all the corrections follow a pattern of shifting blame from the individual pedestrian onto the individual driver?

Because the overwhelming majority of multi-party crashes involve one party violating the norms of how whatever traffic type they are is expected by the rest of the traffic to behave and shaming people is, for better or worse, an effective means of motivating specific behavior.


Not sure if there's overshoot, but seems like it's trying to shift from:

A car hit a cyclist/pedestrian

to:

A person driving a car struck (with the car) a person who was [on a bicycle]/walking.

The issue is, "hit by a car" moves the focus away from what the person driving the car was/was not doing at the time.


I disagree. Framing it as anything other than the driver causing the crash makes it too easy for people to blame everything but themselves. Drivers need to understand the dangers of the road and drive in ways that make sense given all the conditions.

This is cool! I appreciate the effort here to make the roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, as I'd love to see more people prioritize this.

The homepage confused me because the presentation of the two examples made me think that they were before/after at first. It took me ~30s to realize they were just two separate articles.

I'd like to see a bad article juxtaposed with an improved version that someone created using your tool.

I'm maybe used to tools like Grammarly, but when I clicked / hovered over the highlighted text, I was surprised to see nothing happen. I found it a little difficult to scroll back and forth between the highlighted text and the context where it appeared in the article. Having an explanation appear next to the cursor on mouse click/hover might resolve this.

It would also be cool if the tool allowed me to import by URL (with some suggested real articles to show this is a problem in mainstream news sources) rather than require the user to copy/paste manually.


That's actually pretty amazing work.

Being super preachy, as a cliched straight white etc etc... after riding a bike I sort of get complaints about -isms, emotionally, in a way I wouldn't without.

Everyone has already concluded that you deserved it. Whatever happened. It does not matter if you were wearing hi-vis, or had a light, or were in a bike lane, or the nearest bike lane is 5 miles away and on the pavement for some reason, or were 3.1 ft from the kerb or 2.6. If you were stopped at a red light and are now sprawled in front of it because a van didn't, you're clearly lying. If a motorist jumps a set of temporary lights and hit you when you had the green, you're clearly lying. You deserved it, always and forever, is the only argument you need to know, the rest is window dressing.

Now we wonder why kids don't get exercise.


Yes, I have experienced "blame the victim" as a cyclist as well..

Traveling down a well-lit street at night, lights on my bike front and back, approaching a four-way intersection, green for me, a car turning left across my path stopped its turn mid-intersection, yielding to my right-of-way allowing me to proceed. Meanwhile, the car behind it filled with drunken women goes around the yielding car to turn left... into me, on my bike. I was luckily agile enough to leap clear as my bike went clattering away beneath me. I was unhurt though, obviously, shaken.

The driver of the car that hit me came running over to the sidewalk where I sat down and started yelling at me for riding at night. And for not wearing a helmet. "You could have been killed!" she said. I am not making this up. Then she fled.

Division and Brannan street, SF, about 12 years ago.


It's also possibly for some of the same reasons: baseline expectations coalesce around some predominate experience (shared social experience / shared road experience) that becomes the default, to the point where it becomes difficult to imagine a different experience unless you've shared it, much less validate and address that experience.

I don't currently bike but once upon a time that was how I usually got around Los Angeles and boy was it eye-opening. And yet, as someone who's primarily been a motorist and pedestrian since, sometimes I catch myself forgetting.


I'd love to hear even one anecdote of 'kid believes bikers are unfairly blamed for accidents' -> 'kid decides never to exercise again in any form'

Its more the realization that you aren't safe, and that your safety is not only not a priority but somehow actively repugnant, all due to you being on a bike.

If you are a kid driving isn't an option. If you don't feel safe on the roads as a pedestrian or bicyclist then your options are rather limited. This was my own experience, and if I had been less reckless I would have gotten less exercise. As it was, telling some one about a scary experience like a car almost hitting me was usually almost always met with a story about how terrible cyclists are. Its weird.


Color me unconvinced. Kids know that skateboarding isn't safe but I see plenty of kids skateboarding, many of them without helmets! Generally speaking, I think kids are insensitive to risk and think they're invincible. When weighing the risk of cracked skull against looking uncool with PPE, they often forgo the PPE.

I think perception of physical danger is low on the list of reasons why kids don't get as much exercise as they should. Lower on the list than helicopter parents, "stranger danger" paranoia, and the appeal of video games.


>>and if I had been less reckless

Yes, you see kids behaving recklessly. You don't see the less reckless kids behaving that way. It is really not a surprise, right? Some kids, I'm sure, don't skateboard or bike because on one hand there is a social pressure to not wear a helmet but on the other hand they don't want to get their skull cracked.

'Perception of danger' was probably my primary criteria as a child for selecting activities. Why do you think children don't think about this? Do you remember being a child?


> Do you remember being a child?

Heh, I remember laying down on my skateboard and riding it down hills headfirst without a helmet when I was a kid. Like most children, I was invincible.


>Like most children, I was invincible.

No, like most children you knew. The quiet or more risk averse ones weren't out tearing shit up like we were.

Besides, lets get back to brass tacks here. Currently your argument is that bike safety isn't important because kids feel invulnerable, which is sort of untenable. Road safety is important, and to get back to TFA, I think its important that when describing collisions between bikes and cars some of the onus is placed on the person piloting the car. I find it suspicious that there is a concerted lack of transparency in this regard.


Sounds like you should cycle in safer places then? Airline pilots don't complain because highways aren't a safe place for planes to be, and similarly it can be pretty dangerous to ride a bike in a place where cycling is an afterthought. Shifting the blame back to the drivers doesn't change that, if anything it tarnishes the reputation of cyclists even further. I get a similar feeling when I see people on Hacker News complain about how many DAUs Facebook has: making people feel worse about their online time isn't improving the status-quo, if anything it's making their alternative look more attractive by comparison.

Bad infrastructure is an infrastructure issue. Trying to gussy it up as a social one is going to be a really tough case to make when there are actual human rights violations happening in-media-res.


> Bad infrastructure is an infrastructure issue. Trying to gussy it up as a social one is going to be a really tough case to…

Last I checked infrastructure spending was mostly dictated by social policies. Either that or we’ve had generations of truly incompetent infrastructure planners who have all failed to realise that drivers in cars aren’t only people who need to get from A to B.


Sounds like you've answered your own question there.

I think articles that highlight terrible driving would help the growth of the idea in drivers that maybe they need to take care more around bikers. If you're a driver and the articles seem to be blaming the bicycles, you won't change your behaviour. But if you read how a driver goofed up and hit a bicycle, maybe you'll pay more attention the next time your car is near one.

This is a masterclass in horrible logic. Every sentence either starts with an incorrect premise (e.g. that roads are only for vehicles) or makes extraordinary leaps in order to conjure a conclusion. Well done?

You might be mistaken if you think that there are just easy, safe places to bike for pleasure let alone as a principle form of transportation in most parts of the country. I live in a place now where it isn't perfect, but where I grew up (and had little agency to affect my locale!) it just didn't exist.

More like 'parents won't let kid ride more than block from their house'.

And so we get stuff like this:

https://www.engadget.com/little-tikes-smart-stationary-bike-...


I'm sort of in that situation now, though not a kid. I biked around all the time as a kid and in college, but for some reason it's a lot scarier when I do it now, even in areas with not so much traffic. So I don't bike any more, and miss out on a lot of exercise. Weirdly, in the old days I never felt like I needed a rear view mirror when biking, but now I always worry about cars coming up behind me without my noticing. I don't know what has changed.

I don't think that "the cyclist was not wearing a helmet" or "impairment was not an issue" are examples of counterfactuals; the authors should crack open a dictionary look up what that word means in general use, and additionally how it is used in philosophy and science.

If you have word from the police that the driver was not found to have any alcohol or if the cyclist wasn't wearing a helmet, those are simply facts, not counterfactuals.

(An article about an accident should report all the hitherto known facts; then it can't be accused of having a bias with regard to cherry-picking the facts.)

There is a problem with "alcohol doesn't appear to be a factor" in that it lacks conclusiveness. Appear to whom? For what reasons, and why aren't they sure? The driver was able to touch their nose with their eyes closed, is that it? I think a reasonable rule should be to cull any probabilistic statements, or statements with hedge words introducing uncertainty: remove all such statements from third parties, and under no circumstances invent new probabilistic statements in the process of editorializing.

In fact, it's the use of the word accident that may have the counterfactual issue (and good point here). There is a supposition behind it which may be false. Maybe it wasn't an accident? You can't logically call a pedestrian hit an accident until other hypotheses have been ruled out, like the driver had a specific murder motive, or is crazy. It's also hard to call it an accident if the driver was blatantly reckless: acted contrary to the rules of the road which are intended to prevent such occurrences, and which the driver is legally obliged to follow as a matter of licensing. If a walking person falls into a fountain due to texting on their phone, it's difficult to swallow the word accident, since they were practically begging for something to happen by moving through an environment while choosing to block it out.


I think the term "counterfactual" comes from the implied, well, counterfactual:

- if the cyclist had been wearing a helmet (which they weren't), then they might have survived

- if impairment had been an issue (which it wasn't), then the driver would've been responsible for that

And I guess they're particularly often used for victim blaming:

- if the rape victim hadn't worn revealing clothing, they probably would have been safe

etc.

So, while I agree that the issue is not particularly well presented here, it does seem plausible to me that implied counterfactuals frequently distract from the culpable party (by pointing out all the hypothetical things that the victim "could have done").


Thanks for the feedback.

There seems to be some conflict with how to define "counterfactual". Merriam-Webster defines it as "contrary to fact" [1], so that comes down to a statement being either true or false. But the way I'm using it (and the research my work is based off) aligns more with the Cambridge dictionary usage: "thinking about what did not happen but could have happened, or relating to this kind of thinking" [2]. Further, Stanford Philosophy states, "Modal discourse concerns alternative ways things can be, e.g., what might be true, what isn’t true but could have been, what should be done. This entry focuses on counterfactual modality which concerns what is not, but could or would have been." [3]

> If you have word from the police that the driver was not found to have any alcohol or if the cyclist wasn't wearing a helmet, those are simply facts, not counterfactuals.

I do believe these are counterfactuals, consistent with definitions from [2] and [3]. For example, if a bicyclist is hit and killed and the news article states the fact he wasn't wearing a helmet, sometimes it feels like the article is insinuating that if the bicyclist had been wearing a helmet, he would have survived. Of course, we cannot know that without investigating how fast the driver was going, how heavy the colliding vehicle was, etc. Some of those crashes are simply unsurvivable. The article espouses a "what could have been" thought. Please feel free to disagree, but provide links so I can read more.

> You can't logically call a pedestrian hit an accident until other hypotheses have been ruled out

I agree, but it seems that journalists take a different view. They see "crash" as intentional (i.e. you used your vehicle to murder someone), and that's why they use the word "accident". The way I see it, accident implies the incident was unforeseeable and unpreventable. I also think "accident" requires a higher burden of proof: just like all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, I think all accidents are crashes, but not all crashes are accidents. In the absence of a conclusive police investigation demonstrating complete unavoidability, the word accident should not be used.

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/counterfactual [2] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/counterf... [3] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/counterfactuals/


Your counterfactual explanation makes sense in the helmet example, but I think most people wouldn't be able to figure out that connection without such an explanation. Even if it's correct, it's still confusing. For example, I can't figure out what the relevant counterfactual is in the alcohol example.

That's not to say that these are purely value-neutral facts, it still makes sense for them to be called out by this tool. I wish I had a better term for them though, rather than just complaining about the current label.


I think the issue is this: there is a bias when certain news sources only mention facts about what drivers did right (like not being impaired) and about what pedestrians or cyclists did wrong (like not wearing a helmet).

We cannot easily detect this pattern of bias from just a sample of one article from the given source, however, even from one article, there can be a hint of this bias. For instance, a statement about the impairment level of the driver is not made, but the status about the bicycle helmet is made.

To avoid, or at least reduce biases, the reporter has to have a standard template of all relevant fact types, fill it in with everything that is known and then report on everything. If the cyclist was wearing a helmet, report that; if not also report that.

(The available facts may be biased, like what the police and other on-scene responders take in and communicate.)


By the same token though, everyone on this discussion is jumping to "we must reduce speeds in cities" without doing any analysis of whether the collision would be survivable at the lower speed they are proposing. They just assume they don't need to because they have the moral high ground.

I don't think that's quite fair - the relationship between the severity of injuries to pedestrians and cyclists and speed of impact is so well established that it basically does go without saying...

Obviously there are other factors (size of the vehicle, whether it scoops somebody up over the bonnet or down under the wheels, whether the driver is following the speed limit or speeding etc. etc.), and there are other policy options that can also help increase safety, like separating cyclists and cars with curbs, barriers, medians, etc. But I don't think there is any controversy to the assertion that reducing speed on city/suburban streets does reduce accidents and the severity of accidents...


Maybe you should also include in the site this explanation

> I think a reasonable rule should be to cull any probabilistic statements

Isn't that all statements, if we're being honest bayesians?


I gather that the intent is not to make the reporting more neutral or accurate, but to change the framing in a direction that vision zero finds more appealing. E.g. in the first article we should view the woman as a vulnerable road user, bearing no responsibility for being struck by a vehicle even though video evidence shows that she fell into the street.

Respectfully, I think you're demonstrating the sort of thinking the corpus of research surrounding this seeks to shine a spotlight on: blaming the victim, rather than focusing on safe and forgiving design.

Should our built environment be such that falling down in public should end your life? Do people deserve to die simply because they want to cross the street? Why do we design residential neighborhoods where parents are afraid of letting their kids play outside due to traffic? Do drivers of 4,000+ lbs of steel and glass bear greater responsibility than pedestrians and bicyclists.

In the article you mention with the woman falling into the street, the article makes no mention of street design. Further, emphasis is placed on the victim, but nothing is said of the driver.

- What is the speed limit on that road? Fast-moving vehicles will require faster reaction time and longer stopping distances. Maybe areas that mix traffic with VRUs need to be reworked.

- Did the driver appear to make any effort to stop? If so, why doesn't the article mention it if they already have video evidence? If not, did the driver not see the woman? Was the driver distracted?

- Did poor illumination contribute to this collision? (If so, that's a design element: street lighting).

> I gather that the intent is not to make the reporting more neutral or accurate, but to change the framing in a direction that vision zero finds more appealing.

I'm posting this to demonstrate my work and seek honest and meaningful criticism to improve the tool and help improve public discourse around a public safety matter that is killing 30k-40k people per year in the U.S., and injuring millions. You can avoid the underhanded and snarky quip.


Calling them "editorial anti-patterns" because they don't frame the discussion how you would like it to be framed is... well, an antipattern in itself.

Let me be clear: Your goal of improving road safety is laudable, and the aspects your tool highlights are conceivably a way to achieve that. But priming visitors to expect "editorial anti-patterns" and then instead presenting "insufficiently biased-to-the-pedestrian" snippets is dishonest.

While there are recommendations in there I fully support (e.g. "highlight systematic problems"), I am particularly put off by repeated suggestions like "the driver hit the cyclist": Unless the driver itself physically made contact with the cyclist, this is between inaccurate and confusing. It sounds like a fist fight broke out when the fundamental happening was someone being injured by sudden contact with a vehicle.

You can still involve the driver in the sentence if needed, but please don't advocate for confusing reporting in the name of unconditionally blaming individuals.

Also, suggestion for an addition: If you want to improve road safety, you could also recommend report on the maintenance status of the vehicle (e.g. were the brakes well-serviced?).


Thanks for your feedback!

I certainly have a lot more work to do over the next few weeks to improve the tool, and I think much of your comment will be addressed once I place a lot more weight on Framing (see my other comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28842314).

For your "driver hit the cyclist" example, I would like to avoid confusion that there was a physical altercation like a fist fight between the driver and cyclist. However, I stand by the sentence structure, because I don't want to personify or give agency to vehicles (e.g. "vehicle hit the cyclist") when it's the driver who is in control, and focusing on driver calls into question more thematic elements like distracted driving, speeding, visibility and lighting conditions, etc.

Is there a way you'd recommend rephrasing "driver hit the cyclist" to satisfy both our suggestions?

> Calling them "editorial anti-patterns" because they don't frame the discussion how you would like it to be framed is

To be clear, I'm not trying to force my desired framing on authors or inject bias into articles. I am simply working off of the research I've seen, such as Editorial Patterns in Bicyclist and Pedestrian Crash Reporting [1] and all the other citations in that paper, that there is a very real and measurable effect on the language used in these articles and the readers' perception on blame and preventative measures.

However, I am certainly thinking about the feedback I've received from everyone in this thread.

> If you want to improve road safety, you could also recommend report on the maintenance status of the vehicle (e.g. were the brakes well-serviced?).

That sounds like an interesting idea. I know that vehicle status can contribute to crashes, and legislation has been enacted to improve this. For example, all vehicles now require tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) because improper tire pressure was leading to lots of crashes. Back-up cameras are required because people, particularly small children, were being run over when in reverse. States have different requirements for periodic vehicle safety inspections (in New York State where I live it's once per year).

If a crash is being reported involving older vehicles, maybe journalists could mention if those vehicle predate certain safety mandates. For example, vehicles before 2007 in the U.S. may not have TPMS [2]

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330975590_Editorial...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tire-pressure_monitoring_syste...


You're right that the intent is not to make the reporting more neutral, but you are missing the point -- the reporting is not neutral to begin with.

Take an example from the tool: - The SUV crashed into the woman. vs - The driver crashed into the woman.

It is not that one of these statements is "neutral" while the other one is biased. In both cases, the author is making a choice of emphasis.

What Vision Zero advocates is that the former's emphasis is the wrong one, and that ascribing more agency (not necessarily blame, but agency) to drivers is the right emphasis to take. But no one is saying that that the choice of words is not subjective either way.


Yeah, this is a little odd to me. The app frames itself as a way to improve reporting, but the way it intends to improve it is by imposing an inherently less neutral position on the language used. There's no fact-checking going on here that would lead the program to decide the original report was incorrect and needed updating, except that it doesn't frame the story in the designer's point of view. An extremely postmodern app.

It's possible (and not unlikely) that this is how more news will be processed in the future.


To be fair: The model does not appear to automate remediation. It just highlights problems.

Also: If all of this is done toward the goal of reducing vehicle-related pedestrian deaths, maybe the dictionary says that's technically a bias, but I have a hard time seeing the argument that its a reprehensible one. Pedestrians may bear some responsibility; the driver is not always at fault; at the end of the day, a pedestrian has never killed a driver. The point here isn't/shouldn't be about fault; its about underscoring a power imbalance.

Have you ever heard the old saying: If the team succeeds, its everyone's success; if the team fails, its the manager's failure? Same thing. In situations of power imbalance, it is Good to bias fault toward power. As they say: with great power, comes great responsibility. Most drivers on American roads have zero sense of responsibility.


Yes, I do not think you bear responsibility if you collapse and someone strikes you with their car and then flees the scene.

Don’t be obtuse.

A person collapses into the street and is struck by oncoming traffic - no one is to blame. It is an accident.


If someone collapses into the street, the driver should be able to stop in time, unless they are going to fast. Who I can think to blame here: * The auto manufacturer for not having sensors to detect this.

* The city for making car dependent areas

* The city for making roads that have cars drive so fast by pedestrians, that the pedestrian can die if hit

* The driver for not driving more reasonably

* The city for not having a barrier between the sidewalk and the road, China has these in a lot of areas, a curb with a hedge between the side walks and roads, or a fence.

The pedestrian who collapses is the last to blame in my view.


> If someone collapses into the street, the driver should be able to stop in time, unless they are going to fast.

Or they collapse mere seconds before the car strikes them making the __accident__ unavoidable.


The duration between when the pedestrian collapses and when the driver runs over the pedestrian is not as relevant as you seem to be implying. If someone is standing in a crosswalk in broad daylight and falls over, even if the pedestrian collapses 0.1 seconds before someone runs them over that doesn't leave the driver blameless. Why, in broad daylight, in the middle of a crosswalk, was a driver 0.1 seconds away from running over a pedestrian? That sounds like poor road design, poor driving, or another factor. The same logic applies even as we worsen the conditions: if it was dark, where was the lighting? If the pedestrian "suddenly appeared" from behind an obstacle, why is there an obstacle that close to a road and why can a pedestrian get so close that they can "appear" from behind that obstacle?

Roads should be designed so that pedestrians cannot accidentally end up 0.1 seconds (or pick your duration) from being crushed by a driver. And drivers, state-licensed machine operators, should face an incredibly high bar of scrutiny when it comes to damaging pedestrians. Yes this probably means very different road designs than the ones we have now, that is one of the end goals of this kind of effort.


I can say with confidence that this effort will not result in roads being re-designed, ripped up, re-poured, and money paid for the effort.

Yeah, this isn't an act of god that no one could have possibly foreseen. This is system designed by humans that we have 100% control over.

This is the key point of the research and the tool I built, and clearly I still have some work to do on making this clear on my site:

The objective is not to shift blame from one party to the other, even if its shifting from VRUs to drivers. The important thing is that we emphasize that all car crashes have a cause and known solutions! Nearly all news articles miss this point, and tend to place blame (even inadvertently) on the parties involved rather than discuss how to prevent future incidents from happening.


FWIW, one way in which you lost me early on was framing it as VRU vs driver. I don't see it in such simple terms. There are road users. It is not always the pedestrian that is killed. Sometimes it is another driver. And pedestrians can absolutely be the cause of a wreck where the driver dies. Not to mention, someone can be a VRU now, and a driver in a few minutes, then a VRU again.

There are lots of good reasons to make roads safer, lots of methods for doing so, and none of them require making drivers the villains.


> If someone collapses into the street, the driver should be able to stop in time, unless they are going to fast.

Even 5 mph is too fast if the collapse is shielded from view until the last instant.

In other words your statement boils down to "driver can stop unless they can't".


If the collapse is shielded from view until the last instant, but still possible, there's an engineer somewhere who designed a road irresponsibly.

Exactly this. The human-factors-engineering take is that these should be mutually exclusive:

- a driver should be able to brake if a person falls suddenly (streets)

- a person is isolated from/ is incapable of falling suddenly into oncoming traffic (roads)

It's the same reason highways are fenced off, extended to streets and roads. A big part of the problem is America's reliance on stroads: too fast to be hospitable for non-drivers, insufficiently isolated to protect non-drivers.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroad


It is extremely unlikely that someone will be killed by a 5 mph collision, and it is certainly less likely than a 30 mph collision.

Cars are heavy things and can kill you even if they move at 5mph: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jun/22/anton-yelchin-d...

Perhaps if she is struck then the drivers were going too fast? Maybe the speed limit should be lowered. Perhaps the street could be designed in a safer way to make this less likely to happen. Calling everything an accident is ignoring the actual causes.

If I see a cyclist one of the things I do is slow down and give them space specifically because bicyclists do occasionally fall. A good chunk of my awareness is also assigned to evaluating how they're riding in order to anticipate any kind of problem. The fact that most motorists don't believe there's any kind of responsibility for everyone to behave similarly is a problem.

Changing your behavior gives the cyclists and the road users around you (other cars, pedestrians looking for a spot to cross, etc, etc) the impression that you're a skittish or novice driver and are uncomfortable with the situation. This puts them on alert that you might do something unexpected (you are presumably a novice after all). This takes attention away from all the other things that demand their attention and reduces overall situational awareness.

The best favor you can do all other traffic is to be as predictable and unremarkable in your actions as possible so that they may reliably plan their actions around yours.


> you are presumably a novice after all

I'm 49 and I've been driving since I was 16.

You can absolutely react to hazards without appearing skittish, which also alerts other traffic to the hazard if they're paying close attention.

Trying to drive like a robot all the time is something that actual novice drivers think makes them better drivers.


I don't know why this other person is claiming that altering your driving based on what's happening on the road is a bad thing. Not adapting to the conditions is how many crashes happen in the first place.

All that other stuff in this thread about safer road design is really about removing the need to think about how to drive. So instead of making it so drivers need to give cyclists room, safe road design would just give them that room. But in the absence of those safer designs, people just need to drive more safely.


>I don't know why this other person is claiming that altering your driving based on what's happening on the road is a bad thing.

Thanks for the strawman. My point is that doing so to an extent that is anomalous compared to other traffic sends up red flags.


>I'm 49 and I've been driving since I was 16.

My point is you look like a novice in the eyes of the other drivers because the only information they have is that you're having a harder time than everyone else passing the cyclist(s).

>You can absolutely react to hazards without appearing skittish, which also alerts other traffic to the hazard if they're paying close attention.

I agree


> My point is you look like a novice in the eyes of the other drivers because the only information they have is that you're having a harder time than everyone else passing the cyclist(s).

In my experience, this is because the other drivers are just rolling the dice and passing on blind curves or passing in the same lane with barely any clearance. It's not an example of good driving ... but it is predictable.


Imagine this were a workplace: some kind of suspended catwalk where accidentally falling off it is fatal. It would be an OSHA violation not to have guard rails to prevent this from occurring. Likewise, if this is a road where cars are moving too quickly to stop in time to avoid fatally hitting someone who falls onto the road, there ought to be a barrier between the pavement and the road except at designated crossing points.

> no one is to blame. It is an accident

That is not the mindset with which aviation arrived at its amazing safety record.


Who's being obtuse? It looks like neither you nor the parent comment assign blame to the woman that the driver struck. From here, it looks like you are in agreement.

The parent comment didn't even say one way or another if the driver who struck the woman should get any blame...


A few months ago I wrote a short Twitter rant about a Boston Globe article that described a pedestrian being struck by a driver really poorly.

Thread: https://twitter.com/evanjfields/status/1387131251811831812/

Article: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/04/27/metro/woman-28-seriou...

To my surprise, this tool finds no problems with the article and gives it a B.

(I'm really tickled by the tool, like the idea, but based on a totally not rigorous sample, seems like the tool leans a bit too much into sort of sentence structure analysis and elides some semantics?)


Thanks for linking this issue, and I'll certainly look into it. I agree with your analysis on Twitter: manually annotating the article should yield the following issues:

1. Focus: she was struck by a Toyota Corolla (emphasis is placed on the VRU)

2. Object: she was struck by a Toyota Corolla (agent is referred to as an object, rather than a person, e.g. driver of the Corolla)

3. Object: a 2010 Toyota Corolla being driven by a 29-year-old Brookline man, was driving east (again, the wording personifies the vehicle instead of assigning agency to the driver heading eastward)

I will need to debug this particular example further, but it appears the "2010 Toyota Corolla" and "Toyota Corolla" are not being classified as CARLIKE, a label I trained an NER model on to help deal with all the ways you can name a vehicle: year-make-model, make-model, year-model, model, model-ish, generic terms like truck/pickup/pick-up etc., short-hands like Chevy instead of Chevrolet, etc.

Furthermore, the tool is not identifying "woman" as a VRU. It's a little bit ambiguous because while "[she] entered the roadway", it's not 100% clear that means she is a VRU: a driver/vehicle can enter a roadway too.


Interesting context, thanks! Cool tool, will be glad to see it get tuned further :)

I like the general idea, and the use of NLP to implement it.

But I am dubious about some of the principles behind it.

- For example, I find it inaccurate to say "the driver hit the pedestrian", which to me suggests a collision between two people, not between a person and a vehicle. (Of course this does not apply to a phrase like "the vehicle fled the scene" - it is clear that it was the driver who fled the scene). While it's obvious the driver is responsible for the trajectory of their vehicle, it's also clear that the injuries and deaths are caused by the fact that one of the elements involved in the collusion is a 1+ ton piece of steel, and the other one a 70kg human being.

- Regarding the term "accident", I see in the Merriam-Webster that it is defined in this context as: "an unfortunate event resulting in particular from negligence or ignorance". It seems to me that this definition does not exonerate the driver from responsibility (lack of vigilance or competence).


> the driver hit the pedestrian

It seems reasonable to me. Imagine you’re driving and you hit a deer. What do you say when you tell the story? “My car hit a deer this morning on my way to work!” or “I hit a deer this morning on my way to work!” Even my “Imagine you’re driving and you hit a deer” sentence reads weirdly in the non-person-based language.

If accuracy or confusion is still the issue “the assailant hit the victim” could be amended to “the assailant hit the victim with a baseball bat” to clarify.


It's funny you mention this particular phrasing. I used to work as a 911/police dispatcher so I was often literally the first person you'd tell such a story to. I had so many instances in which I would have greatly preferred people not use the "I hit ___" or "___ hit me"

>"I was on my way to work and this guy just hit me! He just came out of nowhere and hit me!"

Cue the inevitable asking of a) did he strike you with a fist? a weapon? b) did he strike you with a vehicle? c) if he struck you with a vehicle, were you in your vehicle or were you walking?

I got burned -many- times over taking the seemingly obvious interpretation of "I was on my way to work and this guy just hit me!" and assuming a "two-vehicle traffic collision" just to find out the caller was actually exiting a coffee shop when someone physically assaulted him, or was walking back to his parked car when he watched someone back into it, etc..

Even "I was driving to work and someone hit me" leaves such a plethora of questions unanswered that yes, in instances where -clarity- is important (having to be clear and succinct, not casually retelling the story at a bar) I would much rather hear "I was driving my vehicle when another driver collided with me" which isn't meaningfully longer and clarifies many questions about what happened.


> - For example, I find it inaccurate to say "the driver hit the pedestrian", which to me suggests a collision between two people, not between a person and a vehicle.

Or alternatively, they got in an argument and the driver punched the pedestrian.

On the other hand, you'd never say "the bicycle hit the pedestrian". It would be "the cyclist hit the pedestrian". The former would make it sound like the cyclist had ejected from the bike and the bicycle to continue onward and collided with the pedestrian.

Part of this may be that when a bicycle crashes into me, the 20LBs of bicycle is less important than the 150LBs of cyclist, whereas with a car it's the momentum of the vehicle that's deadly, but I suspect there's also just the fact that we've normalized absolving drivers and blaming the car itself.

Obviously, the correct solution is to say "the human-operated car crashed into the pedestrian", just as we'd say "the self-driving car" if it were autonomous.


> Regarding the term "accident"

I think in aviation circles the word "accident" is disliked because it implies a certain inevitability and tends to terminate the search for further underlying causes.

If it's a crash, then we find out why, and if it happened because there was some debris on the runway or a certain switch in the cockpit was in the wrong position, then we need to find out how that could have happened and what to undertake to make sure it doesn't happen again.


> the driver hit the pedestrian

Seems reasonable. Cars don't kill people of their own volition without a driver. And in similar circumstances we wouldn't say something like an AR-15 killed a person, we'd say a gunman/gunwoman/shooter did. Why should drivers get treated differently?


I find "the vehicle fled the scene" as a useful phrase that's used to distinguish this situation from the very different "the driver fled the scene" which is commonly used in the (not that rare) cases where the driver abandons the wrecked car after an accident, in some cases to hide that they were intoxicated.

I disagree. Shifting the agency to the driver is important enough to my that I recommend writers use "the driver fled the scene on foot" if that's what happened. (This particular phrase is actually used.)

It seems obvious that "the vehicle" is not doing the fleeing, so even if this is standard phrasing it should be revised.


Easy to have both -- "the driver fled the scene in their vehicle"

If I hit you with a wrench, saying "the wrench hit you" is clearly awkward and obscuring what matters.

I don't see the analogy. "I hit you with a wrench" by and large implies intent. A pedestrian being hit by a car is very rarely an intentional event.

Further, you tend to have control over the wrench in this scenario (and if I was hit by a wrench because you e.g. dropped it unintentionally, "the wrench hit me" is reasonable), whereas insufficient control over the car is usually the problem in a crash.


That’s nearly the point. It’s not that it implies intent, but that it implies agency.

Worth noting the history behind this issue of biased reporting:

> In the late 1920s and ’30s, a consortium of automobile manufacturers, insurers, and fuel companies known as the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce funded a wire service that provided free reporting on crashes to short-staffed Depression-era newspapers. Reporters could send in a few basic details about a local collision, and the wire service would craft a narrative that exonerated the driver, blamed any pedestrians who were involved, and — crucially — transformed virtually every “crash” into an understandable or even inevitable “accident.” Newspapers around the country published the industry-approved stories, often without edits.

Source: https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/03/05/streetsblog-101-how-j...


this seems to me like it's designed to shift the blame from unilaterally on the VRU (bad), to unilaterally on the driver (also bad).

You pay lip service to systemic problems, but this is not a systemic approach to reducing crashes; it just implies that the driver is at fault, which is not always the case in these things. As another comment noted, reporters would do well to highlight the context around the crash if there's no clear fault (such as an intoxicated or negligent driver, or a pedestrian running into the road within minimum braking distance), such as lack of bike lanes, blind corners, etc that would apply pressure to authorities to make the roads safer.

Not all crashes can be default-blamed on the driver.


If a Cessna crashes into a car, is it safe to blame the Cessna and not the car, rather than treat it as a special case? I'm sure a car could swerve onto a runway mid-landing, but it would be the exception to the rule, right?

When operating a car you should be expected to be in a heightened state of awareness and responsibility because of your capacity to cause damage, compared to a pedestrian.

The bias in the current narrative (against pedestrians who have little autonomy vs a car) is so strongly on the wrong side that I don't think asking for a middle-ground approach is worth arguing.

I can't tell you how many times I've read stuff like this: https://www.bikelaw.com/2021/10/waller-bike-crash/


I think that's a false choice; rather than choosing between anti-VRU bias (as present) and anti-driver bias (as proposed), why not choose to report the specific facts of the incident at hand? Blaming one party all the time is stupid, because one party is not always at fault.

Edit:

Your cessna example makes no sense, as cars and planes do not generally share space. Should bikes and cars share space? No, but that's part of the systemic aspect of the problem.


I am arguing people and cars don't generally share space either. When a car hits a person, it's rare and I do think it should bias against the large, dangerous hardware, while also examining the facts. We have a century of bias-towards-cars coverage which permeates all society, police officers writing their reports are biased from what they've read and how they are trained, I don't think it's an over correction to default to assuming the larger, more regulated and dangerous side of any collision is by default assumed to be at fault, and for the other side to be the exception to the rule.

I say this as a person who's driven a car for 25 years and never hit any people, and who has been hit by a car by a driver who wasn't paying attention multiple times. What's worse, is drivers are often angry at cyclists for even existing, rather than taking responsibility for being aware of their surroundings.

The cessna example is a little over the top, but not totally out of line as a metaphor.


I was expecting things like "woman was hit by a car" to be replaced by "A car hit a woman" (prefer active voice).

Instead it refers to pedestrians as Vulnerable Road Users. It says the information that "alcohol was not a factor" is a "Distracting counterfactual. Readers place more blame on victims when articles use more counterfactual statements. Counterfactuals also obscure the systemic nature of incidents and place unreasonable burden on individuals."

I thought this would be an automated grammar assistant for basic English writing techniques you should have learned in high school. It's not. Instead, it's a tool for injecting bias into reporting.


It's a tool for correcting bias.

The corrected version of "woman was hit by a car" (key actor not even mentioned) and "alcohol was not a factor" (unmentioned driver did nothing wrong) is "driver hits woman in unlit crosswalk, third casualty at this intersection this year."

The former statements don't challenge the status quo of deadly infrastructure. The latter statement does. Making the driver visible makes it clear to readers that drive that the story isn't one just about other people: they, too, could be doing everything right but still hurt someone.


Here’s why the reframing matters:

Accidents are “oops” that are to accepted as fact of life. The no reason to change the system. Accidents happen.

Crashes are not accidents. They have a cause and the cause can addressed. Crashes can be prevented.

So the reframing shifts from talking about a system we should accept how it is to one that can be improved.


It would be inaccurate, unethical, and potentially libelous for any newspaper to construe the events of a potential criminal act (or any event, really) without doing any investigation to support that conclusion, and primarily in order to further an editorial agenda.

I've been employed as a newspaper editor and am familiar with libel laws and the ethics of journalism. What's been advocated for is accurate reporting, not conclusion-jumping.

Currently there are headlines like this:

"Car hits cyclist"

Why is a victim a person but the actor is an inanimate object? They don't say "car hits bike".

A more accurate headline would be "Car driver hits cyclist".

The other way to improve reporting is to call a preventable crash what it is, a crash and not an "accident".

More here: https://www.bicycling.com/news/a20049939/five-cyclist-blamin...


> Why is a victim a person but the actor is an inanimate object? They don't say "car hits bike".

The car physically touched the bicyclist, hence "car hits cyclist". The driver did not physically touch the bicyclist, hence "driver hits cyclist" is inaccurate. "Car hits bicycle" is accurate but not the most relevant fact to report (unless nobody was riding it at the time?).

I'm not sure why this point has not been discussed in this thread. Maybe my understanding of English is insufficiently advanced, but "driver hits cyclist" literally implies to me that one person punched another, not that the car crashed into the person riding a bicycle (although this can generally be inferred from the context).


> The driver did not physically touch the bicyclist.

A headline would be used even if the car did physically touch the cyclist but hit the bike and knocked the off.

Also, we don't have headlines that say "bullet shoots child", because the person shooting the gun did not physically touch the child. In some of these cases, the car is the lethal weapon, the agency of person driving the car matters.

> but "driver hits cyclist" literally implies to me that one person punched another

"hits" can mean "impacted" or "run into", so it's accurate here even though it's not a punch.


> Why is a victim a person but the actor is an inanimate object?

To humanize the victim without ascribing blame, when blame is unknown. For the same reason you wouldn't have a headline that read "Alice killed Bob with her car": even though that may technically be true, it's needlessly critical. Needless from the perspective of an editorially neutral party, like a newspaper, but not from the perspective of an activist, like this website.


Consider when a terrorist drove a truck into a Christmas market:

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Christmas%20market%20k...

Most headlines were like "Lorry kills 12 at Christmas Market", like there was a killer truck on the loose.

Here's an alternate framing of an article where a car is a fatal weapon:

"Driver plows car into pedestrians at German bus stop, killing one" https://www.dw.com/en/driver-plows-car-into-pedestrians-at-g... The lead clarifies that "no assumptions should be made at this point".

It's factual that a man drove a truck into a Christmas market and another person drove into a pedestrian at a bus stop. That can be reported without an assumption of guilt without re-framing the story as if the cars drove themselves.


> Show HN: Ensure all car crash articles are biased against the driver and vehicles generally using NLP

Seems like a better title for this.

In the analysis of the first article, under the "recommendations" about counterfactuals, it's literally telling you to remove relevant context about the incident, to ensure the readers can't possibly come to the "wrong" conclusion about who's responsible.

Distrust of news media is at an all-time high[1] and if people can't see how this sort of thing contributes, I really don't know what to say at this point.

1. https://news.gallup.com/poll/321116/americans-remain-distrus...


> "The vehicle fled the scene" VS "The driver fled the scene"

It is quite common for the driver to flee the scene while leaving behind the disabled vehicle.

…one of my old coworker’s vehicle was involved in an accident with a pedestrian who ran full speed in front of her while it was dark outside and the vehicle was traveling at the legal speed limit. Said vehicle was unable to stop in time which resulted in the speeding pedestrian striking the vehicle.


Are you sure it wasn’t that the road moved under the pedestrian’s feet locating her in front of the vehicle comoving with the road in one direction and along it in another?

I think you haven’t presented evidence.


I like it.

I like that it tags segments of text as opposed to the document as a whole.

Since it is confined to a domain and has a well-chosen problem it seems to be highly correct and thus useful.


To better understand what their intent is, I recommend clicking on the little hamburger menu at the top and reading the “Issues” page listed there.

I think this is going to be a major application for "attempting" to identify "types" of biases. I'm being super cautious here because the term bias is painfully misunderstood in most circumstances and often misused as a cudgel rather than a context. But I think it could be educational to observe cultural/social/political trends by distilling content this way.

Is the source code available? It would be interesting to apply this to reporting on other topics.

As far as suggestions, it would be great to see an explanation of each problem when hovering over it in the text. Also, the colors for the "Object", "Counterfactuals", and "Accident" problems are difficult to distinguish for color-deficient individuals.


I like it! I assume the red/yellow/green are roughly bad/warning/good, but what do the blue highlights mean? I agree with another comment that a tooltip to say which of the categories you listed a given span falls into.

This is an interesting tool! It would be cool if you could take say 20 articles from Gothamist, Streetsblog, NYT, NY Post, Pix11, etc. and see how they all ranked in this system. That could be a really interesting blog post. -- Which tools are you using for these NLP judgments? Are you using SpaCy at all? Are there any models you've built here, or is this all rules on top of an NLP model? I'm working on NLP models for education, and we use SpaCy a ton. I'm peter@quill.org if you want to learn more about how we're using this.

Thanks! Comparison between news outlets is on the radar, once I improve the tool based on feedback from this Show HN.

My backend uses spaCy (NER/NLP), textacy [1] for extracting subject-verb-object triples, and coreferee [2] for coreference resolution.

I did build a custom spaCy model for which I manually annotated over 700 crash-related news articles in Label Studio [3]. This custom model identifies counterfactuals, framing (e.g. thematic elements), and what's called CARLIKE, because vehicles can be referred to in so many ways (year-make-model, year-model, color model, generic terms like pickup/sedan/truck, nicknames like Chevy instead of Chevrolet, etc.

Coreference resolution was probably my favorite part of the NLP analyzer. For example: "A woman was injured after being struck by a vehicle. She was walking on Washington Street when the incident took place." Now we can identify "woman" as a pedestrian because "she" was walking. Implementing that coreference resolution felt magical, because now the tool can pick up so many more issues that it couldn't before when it only looked at individual sentences.

I'll be writing an in-depth article about my implementation and journey, and I'll be sure to shoot you an email to chat with you some time.

[1] https://github.com/chartbeat-labs/textacy

[2] https://github.com/msg-systems/coreferee

[3] https://labelstud.io/


Awesome, thanks for following up! We also use coreference resolution - we specifically found Allen NLP's coreference to be the most accurate in an analysis of a few different offerings: http://docs.allennlp.org/v0.9.0/api/allennlp.models.corefere...

I'm somewhat concerned about the ethical implications of this beyond the scope of just car crash reporting. While impressive, the nlp model will have to be tuned by someone, someone with biases the model will inevitably inherit. Seems to have obvious potential as a propaganda tool, which might be used by the 'good guys' today, and be used by malicious actors tomorrow.

I tried it out on https://www.denverpost.com/2021/10/07/medina-alert-hit-run-c..., which I would think in general a group like Vision Zero would approve of, and it got a C (-1 points), because of the phrase, "[The] vehicle will have heavy damage". This seems pedantic, at best, since the whole point of that phrase is to help the public identify the vehicle (and presumably the driver) which was involved in the accident.

Thanks for alerting me to this - that sentence is itself fine, and the tool is incorrectly marking it as problematic. I'll debug that!

Slightly related is the crashes[1], which collects reports of crashes in the local news. They do this because they feel that in the news cycle these are heavilly underreported (as compared to for instance a terrorist attack) and therefore they seem less as a problem (to for instance improve infrastructure to reduce the risk of crashes).

[1] https://us.thecrashes.org/


This could also be used for gun crime reporting as well.

That would be politically infeasible. The overwhelming narrative would be "young black male gang member kills other young black male gang member, destroying the hopes and dreams Victim A's grandmother had for him", and that already doesn't get widely reported.

https://heyjackass.com/


As feedback, speaking of contextualizing things, it would help if you would contextualize your colored highlighting by bringing some of the explanations of issues onto the page itself where the content is marked up. Or have links (maybe have the highlighted words be links) going to a writeup telling why those words got that color.

For consistency, we should use the term motorist instead of driver. Just like we use cyclist or bicyclist instead of rider or motorcyclist instead of motorcycle rider. The only exception would be for buses or trucks (bus driver of truck driver).

I hope you can look past the negative responses here. I think this is very well intentioned and well done. It would be nice to see more rationale on the website like what you've written here

I'm curious how a similar tool built for airplane and helicopter crashes. What if it was due to mechanical failure, would you want the story to focus on a mechanic?

It would be nice if the color-coded key ("Object", etc.) linked to the detailed sections below.

When I first saw "Object" in the summary, I didn't know what it meant.


Super interesting... it's like a linter for car crashes.

There are opinions that are not going to be liked (i.e. crash vs accident) but such is the nature of any linter.


Very nice, I like it! And as a frequent cyclist and writing instructor, really appreciate this kind of work on many levels. Good to see NLP towards social good like this.

I'd say they should do one of these for police shootings, except the whole system would probably overload and melt down.

Instead of just "a woman was killed" it could mention the devastating effect to her family.

How does the program know how the family reacted?

The program just needs to flag if this info is missing.

Does anyone know who is behind that project? Who is developing it?

Thank you so much for this, it's great work!

I'm afraid I find this somewhere between creepy and ridiculous.

On the ridiculous side: the idea that calling a car accident an "accident" is somehow wrong - as if, because I understand that what happened was an accident, I am somehow incapable of thinking "hey, maybe we need better road safety legislation".

On the creepy side: the general approach which is, instead of making public arguments about why cars are bad, to manipulate language so as to push people to your side, using results from behavioural science.

Of course, if you think the author is on the side of the angels, then this is great! But the techniques can be used by equally self-righteous people, with whom you may disagree.

Treating people like sheep is gross. Don't do it.


The problem with using "accident" as the default term is that it preempts any evidence-finding, implying that it was nobody's fault. If someone shoots their gun randomly and someone gets hurt by just being there, nobody will call it an "accident", but somehow if the weapon is a car, the driver gets the benefit of the doubt regardless of the facts.

Of course if there is evidence that the driver deliberately tried to kill someone, nobody will call it an accident. I would imagine that the vast majority of car deaths are indeed accidental, not murders. This seems to contrast with the situation of gun deaths. No?

There's a few really busy streets in my neighborhood where people regularly go 10-20 MPH over the speed limit.

Not surprisingly, there are quite a few hit-and-runs on those streets.

While it's probably the case that the folks who are speeding are just being selfish ("I want to minimize my time on the road") but they are doing so at the cost of safety. The equivalent w/r/t guns might be that someone was firing their gun willy-nilly, with little regard to their surroundings. If someone died in such a scenario, yes, it would have been an "accident" but we would also assign fault to the shooter (gross negligence, manslaughter, I am not a lawyer so I don't know the exact terminology).

The reality is that cars are EXTREMELY dangerous and yet Americans don't tend to think of them that way, and we definitely don't drive them (as a society) with that mindset.


Speeding is bad, but it is obviously much less dangerous than firing a gun at random in public.

There are degrees of intention (Fonseca, 2020). Most people are quite deliberate about the speed they choose to drive, or the level of care they put into the act of operating a vehicle.

City planners and engineers are intentional about what they choose to build or not build.

This is a shaky foundation of an argument IMO.

https://laist.com/news/car-crash-accident-traffic-violence-l...


The main point is that "accident" implicitly absolves the driver of fault, before any evidence is examined. If you're driving 100MPH in a local street, you may not be intentionally trying to harm anyone, but if you do, the result can hardly be called an accident.

I'm not sure. I read a lot of gun violence reporting like "person a was struck by a bullet and later died due to complications" vs "gunman shot and killed person a". It's kinda the same thing.

I would make no assumptions about if car accidents are accidental (which for some reason seems to be the default) or not - and that's more or less the point of the article.


The fact that even making a similar argument to mine, you still say "if car accidents are accidental" is very telling of how ingrained this phrase has become. (Not to pick on you, I just find it amusing.)

I don't think this is coincidental: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28841388

I was trying to amusingly challenge the reader to separate the two meanings of accident (car crash and something that happened unintentionally) just like most writing about crashes tries to get the reader to conflate them. :)


The issue is that the term accident implies a lack of intension, while in most crash reporting we actually have no idea if the collision was intentional, negligent, or whatever. Using a term like crash or collision is actually much closer to the bare facts.

As I have stated in another comment, according to Merriam-Webster, a (car) accident is "an unfortunate event resulting in particular from negligence or ignorance". It doesn't imply intention (in which case it would become a homicide, in the case the victim is deceased), but certainly implies responsibility from the driver.

[flagged]


I realize this may have been a joke taken too far, but your comment breaks several of the HN guidelines and the Show HN guidelines egregiously. Please make your substantive points without personal attacks in the future!

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