[pullquote]This personification of vehicles that maim or kill people (e.g., "car hits man on bicycle") is so common, we think nothing of it, any more than we think twice about describing completely preventable crashes as "accidents."[/pullquote]

Sorry to appropriate pro-gun rhetoric (although I am from Texas), but the NRA's  slogan is the first thing that comes to mind when I read the following leads and headlines today about the man who stole a car last night and ran over a little girl:
KOMO: "Girl, 9, struck by stolen car in hit-and-run crash. ... After hitting the girl, the SUV continued speeding down the sidewalk and eventually cut across Denny Park to get away."

The Seattle Times: "Nine-year-old hit by stolen car in Seattle ... Seattle Police are seeking information about a hit-and-run driver whose stolen car jumped a curb and hit a 9-year-old girl."

The PI.com: "A 9-year-old girl was hit by a stolen SUV early Monday evening, and was rushed to a hospital in serious condition."

This personification of vehicles that maim or kill people (e.g., "car hits man on bicycle") is so common, we think nothing of it, any more than we think twice about describing completely preventable crashes as "accidents."

No matter how many studies show that things like talking on cell phones while driving, or reading a map, or arguing with the kids in the back seat, do contribute to crashes, words like "accident," and headlines that take away drivers' agency by making inanimate objects into active assailants, send a strong signal otherwise.

Imagine seeing the headline "Knife stabs man on street corner," or "bicycle runs into pedestrian." Imagine how the headlines would be different if the man who broke the girl's legs with his SUV had done so with his bare hands.

At least my former colleague Jonah Spangenthal-Lee got today's story right: "Driver hits 9-year-old, flees in stolen car."
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