Sadly is not appropriate

Just received the press release from the Office of Rail Regulation about the safety statistics which are generally all improving. However, ORR cannot resist using emotional language which is wholly inappropriate for a regulator organisation by using the adverb ‘sadly’ when referring to the death of a passenger at the Grayrigg train accident in Cumbria.
Of course the death was sad but it was nothing to do with the ORR and therefore expressing regret or sadness is signing up to the emotional agenda set by the tabloids. Shit happens, as the expression goes, and the ORR’s business is to record it dispassionately. Such use of language contributes to the idea that the railways are dangerous when, in fact, we all know they are an extremely safe form of transport.
It is the same sort of thing that leads to the overprotective attitude towards children that was expressed in the Children’s Society report published earlier this week. People will get killed on the railways, just as children will very occasionally be abducted. However, that does not mean we should not use the railways, or that children should not be allowed out on their own until they are too old to drive.

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