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Letter: We shouldn't blame a 6-year-old for getting into a car crash

A letter writer is disappointed that a judge would agree to a kid being "20 per cent" at fault for a recent Burnaby crash.
A recent Burnaby crash where a six-year-old girl was hit took place in a 30 km/h school zone. | Getty Images

The Editor:

Re: Judge roasts Vancouver parents in ruling on Burnaby car-crash lawsuit (Nov. 21, 2023)

For unfamiliar readers, this involves a case where a six-year-old girl was hit by a driver at a marked crossing while her father was helping his two-year-old toddler with his push bike. Fortunately, the girl only suffered minor injuries.

In the court case, the judge ruled that the driver was 40 per cent responsible, the father 40 per cent at fault, and the six-year-old girl herself 20 per cent at fault.

Assigning blame to a young child for being hit in a crosswalk is beyond preposterous. Is this the standard we hold our society to?

The father, who had to simultaneously juggle the needs of two young children, also doesn't deserve blame added to his conscience after an extremely traumatic event.

Some blame does belong on the driver — she should have been more attentive to her surroundings, and slowed approaching the crosswalk — but these are suggestions, not laws; on paper, she did nothing wrong.

So where should the blame go?

The crosswalk where this occurred, near Sanders Street and Marlborough Avenue, is next to an elementary school, a park, and two preschools.

The speed limit is 30 km/h — but only on school days and only until 5 p.m. (this crash occurred at 7:30 p.m.). At the time of the collision, the speed limit was 50 km/h, which the driver was driving at.

This might be news to some, but kids love to play at parks after school hours or on weekends. The area is full of kids running around all day.

Why is the speed limit not 30 km/h all the time? Slower speed limits give drivers more reaction time and a shorter stopping distance.

It is the responsibility of our local leaders to keep our children safe, and time and time again they fail us. I wish the judge had recognized this, instead of blaming a six-year-old child and her traumatized father.

In his ruling, the judge commented: "The father in this case was much more responsible and attentive than many Vancouver parents one sees, with a coffee in one hand and an iPhone in the other, walking head-down while their children run randomly on streets and sidewalks."

I for one think we should live in a world where it's OK for a parent to have a coffee in their hand without worrying that it might lead to their child being killed.

But maybe that's just me.

- Mihai Cirstea