Posts about Europe
Via Copenhagenize comes this road safety campaign directed at children in the United Kingdom. The video embedded below is one of three television ads from the campaign. It does its best to scare children and blame the victim:
Who is the victim here, and who is the menace? The ad makes the girl out to be both victim (she was injured) and menace (she should have known better than to wear dark clothing). The automobile is presented as a faceless force of nature: its driver is completely absent in this scenario and the only part of the vehicle we see is the glow from its headlights. It's as if the girl had naively wandered into a lion's den. On the streets, she should've known better than to take on the mighty automotive beast without strapping on reflective armor beforehand.
In reality, there are two human beings in this situation. One is a girl crossing the street after dusk, reasonably looking both ways before stepping into the street. The other is an adult surrounded by the protective metal shell of an automobile, traveling at a comparatively high speed. The girl is clearly the more vulnerable road user. While all road users must behave prudently, this ad unintentionally illuminates the heart of the livable streets and traffic justice movements: the belief that our roads should be designed to protect the most vulnerable users, and that less vulnerable road users shoulder a greater level of responsibility to avoid crashes with those who are more vulnerable.
This ad does harm by ignoring the responsibility of the transportation department to provide a safe street. Yes, pedestrians can do their part as well and children need to learn to take care, but the ad absolves the driver of an identity and blames the girl for her own injuries.
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