Blaming The Victim?

As the days get darker and shorter, the Insurance Company of British Columbia is launching a new road-safety campaign aimed at reducing the number of pedestrians injured by motor-vehicles.

While the campaign’s goal is admirable, we feel that the campaign’s target and the message it is sending – summed up in the tagline “Be a safe pedestrian” – needs reconsideration. Find out more after the break.

As ICBC notes, “76 per cent more pedestrians are injured in crashes from November to January every year” compared to brighter, summer months. Perhaps it goes without saying, but what that statistic fails to mention is that those injury-inducing crashes all involve motor vehicles.

Bumli>into another pedestrian and the worst you’re in for a polite Canadian “sorry!” and perhaps a spilled coffee. Fail to notice – or be noticed by – a driver, and you’re at serious risk of becoming a part of the grim statistics ICBC quotes on their campaign page.

But with a campaign strategy that revolves around ads on transit and events targeting pedestrians, ICBC seem to be putting the burden of responsibility for road safety on those at greatest risk: pedestrians. Even though 75% of crashes involving motor vehicles and pedestrians occur where pedestrians have the right of way, ICBC’s message – “Look, listen and be seen” – is directed at those less likely to cause a crash.

When it comes to road safety, no-one has the experience and expertise of ICBC, or their reach and credibility. HASTe would love to see those qualities put to use reminding drivers, who are responsible for most of the crashes but all of the damage, that while road safety is everyone’s responsibility, most of that responsibility is theirs.