There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price

Jessie Singer. Simon & Schuster, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-982129-66-8
Journalist Singer debuts with a trenchant study of the root causes of accidents. Noting that there are 173,000 accidental deaths in the U.S. each year, Singer argues that these incidents are the “predictable result of unequal power in every form—physical and systemic.” She points out that a car striking a pedestrian inspired such outrage in the early 1920s that drivers were dragged from their cars and beaten by crowds of bystanders, and explains how in response the automobile industry “popularized the idea of ‘jaywalking’ both as an insult and as law” to redirect blame away from vehicles and their operators. She also describes how the passage of America’s first workers’ compensation laws in 1911 led corporations to push the idea that “clumsy, irresponsible, or drunk workers” were to blame for accidents. Elsewhere, Singer discusses how “racist planning policies,” including the building of highways “straight through Black neighborhoods” in the 1930s and ’40s, create hazardous conditions that lead to traffic fatalities and other accidents and contribute to the kind of “racist stigma” that blames Black and Latino victims while absolving whites. Ultimately, Singer advocates for accident prevention policies rooted in the idea that “you cannot prevent human error, but you can control the built environment to prevent injury and death.” Lucid and well researched, this is an eye-opening call for rethinking the nature of accidents. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/09/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-3924-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-3926-5
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