ABC News in D.C. Calls Dead Pedestrians “Lazy”

Omar Rivas, killed in Silver Spring, earlier this month, was a maintenance worker and father. He sung in his church's choir. Photo:  Gofundme
Omar Rivas, killed in Silver Spring, earlier this month, was a maintenance worker and father. He sung in his church's choir. Photo: Gofundme

So many people are getting run over in the Washington, D.C. suburb of in Montgomery County that at least one news outlet has decided that the cause must be the victims themselves!

“7 pedestrians killed by vehicles in Mont. County since June 1, laziness a key factor,” reads the headline on Kevin Lewis’s story for WJLA, the ABC affiliate that reported this week on the seven dead pedestrians in the Maryland county since June.

“Lazy” wasn’t Lewis’s word, but the explanation offered by Capt. Tom Didone, of Montgomery County’s Traffic Division.

“They’re being lazy not getting to the crosswalk,” he told WJLA. “People are blindly walking across the street, not paying attention to these cars.”

Can you imagine? It’s like they walked right up to the car and ran themselves over.

So who are the people being publicly slandered shortly after their deaths? The story offered very few details on what happened before the driver killed the pedestrian, but Streetsblog was able to get some information about two of the victims:

Omar Rivas Cardenas, 51, was a maintenance worker who sang in his church’s choir. The driver who struck and killed him did not stop.

Edwin Diaz, 38, was hit while walking on the sidewalk and then dragged 25 feet under the car before the driver pulled over, WTOP reported. In that case, the driver may be charged criminally.

Montgomery County, Maryland, has a Vision Zero policy, meaning it hopes to end all traffic deaths. But the county is currently on track for an increase over last year. Meanwhile, here are the types of roads the county’s pedestrians are still contending with.

norbeck road

Julio Danery Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 34, was struck on this stretch Norbeck Road August 16th.

Now “jaywalking” — we should remind you — was a concept actually invented by car companies in order to shift blame for car violence in cities onto pedestrians. And clearly, it worked spectacularly. Indeed, under Maryland law, pedestrians must yield to drivers outside of crosswalks, which is contrary to many states.

But whether or not, strictly speaking, any of the victims were “jaywalking,” it doesn’t excuse their deaths. Nobody deserves to die because he or she steps outside of two stripes at some point in the journey. And it’s a cautionary tale about how the media typically covers crashes when the driver survives and the victim can’t speak for himself.

With safer, more narrow streets, more frequent crosswalks, better streetlights or any number of other interventions, the deaths of people like Edwin Diaz and Omar Rivas Cardenas might have been prevented.

19 thoughts on ABC News in D.C. Calls Dead Pedestrians “Lazy”

  1. It looks like it was the reporter that was lazier than the people killed. There was no mention that one of the people killed was on a sidewalk. Was that person lazy because they didn’t magically get out of the way of an irresponsible driver?

    “Traffic statistics show pedestrians are at fault 80 percent of the time in fatal collisions involving vehicles. However, in non-fatal crashes, drivers are more likely to be responsible, 60 percent of the time to be precise.”

    Is that difference mostly because dead people can’t tell their side of the story? I would argue that drivers are responsible for 90+ percent of those crashes as it should be their responsibility to try to avoid hitting any objects in their path. If you’re driving too fast to do that, you’re driving too fast for the conditions.

  2. …just like all the ‘lazy’ mountain lions and deer killed in California, trying to get across the road. People will cross in places that make sense to them, so it would be prudent to create cross-walks in those places, rather than forcing people to walk and extra half+ mile out of their way.

  3. In the video above, it looks like the speed limit on the roads there is 40 mph there, as well. Too fast.

  4. MD counties are suburbs of whatever location in MD, not DC. There’s genuinely no justification for mentioning DC if the accidents didn’t occur there.

  5. This is not very surprising from WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington DC. It is owned by right wing Sinclair Broadcasting, known for its biased reporting.

  6. Accidentally killing someone with a gun = manslaughter.

    Accidentally killing someone with a car = almost illegal.

  7. In 2018, are there media conglomerates that are known for their unbiased reporting? None come to mind.

  8. NHTSA data in many reports finds pedestrians making contributing errors in well over half the pedestrian fatalities.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  9. And since as we all know, you support consequences for pedestrians’ mistakes but not for motorists’, I guess it’s OK with you that in many of these cases the pedestrian suffers the death penalty while the motorist gets off scot-free. It’s only fair.

  10. Making comments that absolve the pedestrians from their mistakes is just utter nonsense. Safety demands responsible behavior from BOTH pedestrians and drivers – a principle that you don’t seem to support.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  11. Montgomery County is mostly suburban Washington DC. They are served in large part by the same transit system. Tying a suburban area to the city it is a suburb of helps readers place it geographically.

  12. Reporting that is obsessed with crosswalks is lazy reporting. There are dangerous crosswalks that cross six lanes of high speed traffic with poor visibility. There are other areas that don’t happen to be in marked crosswalks that are much safer. Whether or not a person happens to be in a crosswalk often has little to do with safety.

    There should be more attention paid to the fact that there is very little speed limit enforcement in Montgomery County. Rampant speeding is a much bigger issue.

  13. Look at this like the NTSB might look at an airline crash. What factors led to the event and how do we prevent those factors? Can we make changes to intersections, crosswalks, signage, placement, etc. to reduce pedestrian fatalities? Yes, Why aren’t we?

  14. That is a proper question, Zero. There are many engineering changes that would reduce risks for pedestrians.

    There are also many pro-active actions pedestrians could take to reduce their own risks, things like wearing more visible clothing at night. That is a pro-active action similar to car drivers putting on seat belts for protection. But far too many groups want to say “the driver is always at fault”, a statement that simply is not true.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  15. The driver has full control of the vehicle. Yet most drivers don’t have the skills or mental faculty to properly operate a motor vehicle. Look at the phenomenon of road rage or just look at how many single vehicle collisions there are. Face it. Car drivers really don’t know what the hell they’re doing behind the wheel for the most part.

    The problem is that since the ’50s the MUTCD has treated pedestrians like nuisance that slow down cars. As such, properly marked and controlled cross walks are few and far between. You don’t honestly think that someone should be forced to walk 5 kilometres in either direction to “safely” cross the street?

  16. Up here in Canada, the Transport Canada stats place drivers as being responsible in over 70% of all vehicle / pedestrian collisions.
    I think biased police perception also plays a large part in the determination of who’s at fault. In America the police are more than likely to receive their “accident” investigation skills at auto industry supported training facilities.
    Also, that piece of crap known as the MUTCD doesn’t help the situation very much. The MUTCD is practically written to force car culture upon the masses.

  17. If someone drives a car 15,000 miles a year, they will be involved in an accident with a fatality of a pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle occupant about once in every 5,700 years. Most drivers DO know what they are doing, and do it safely almost all the time. I got my first license in 1960 and the fatality rate per mile driven is more than 75% safer since then – with better cars and safer roadway environments in many places.

    In most central cities where pedestrian is high, there are traffic lights with cross walks every one or two blocks. For cross walks on the collectors & arterials away from downtown areas, the streets that carry the bulk of the traffic, it is pretty simple to place well lit and well marked crosswalks with pedestrian demand rapid flashing beacons or similar devices at reasonable intervals.

    There are rare idiots with road rage, but they are rare. Single vehicle accidents happen at higher rates at night time with many causes: fatigue is the greatest risk plus suicide, inattention, and others.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  18. Both of us should be held liable. Such as the pedestrian chose to jump in front of my car. While the DC area has increased five times more than other areas as Jaywalking, you are asking me to be 100% liable for somebody that decided to jump in front of my car and they have the red light.

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