- Wow, that’s interesting. I never thought about it like that before.
- Some of this is interesting, but I disagree with parts of it.
- This book isn’t worth my time – it is either so wrong as to be laughable or so simplistic as to be useless.
But when I read There Are No Accidents by Jessie Singer, I had a fourth reaction: I could have written this book. By which I mean I know something about most of what she covered and agreed with her analysis.
This isn’t jealousy – I haven’t done the research and interviews that she did and had no plans to write such a book. It’s gratitude. Not only did she pull all those points together in an excellent book, but also she let me realize that I am not a lone voice crying into the wind on a number of subjects related to “accidents.”
The whole point of this book is that so many things we dismiss as accidents – including the ones that cause serious injury and death – are in fact the result of terrible systems that build acceptance of a certain number of deaths into their design.
Singer came to this subject because her best friend was killed by a drunk motorist when riding his bicycle. In looking into the circumstances, she realized that the supposedly safe bike path her friend was using was in fact not protected from bad drivers.
In this country, transportation has been built around the car, and the design of our systems sacrifices safety for speed and ease of car use. We blame the resulting “accidents” on bad driving – or on bad bicycling or bad walking.
Speaking as someone who drives a car, rides a bike, and walks, I can guarantee you that everyone who does those things makes mistakes, even if we’re cold sober. We get distracted. We screw up shifting gears on the bike. We look down at our phones while crossing the street.
Based on my experience – and I have fortunately never been injured in a car accident – I think we make the most mistakes while driving because it is virtually impossible to pay attention to everything we need to do, and it gets harder the faster you go.
By the way, did you know that the speed limit on highways is calculated by figuring out how fast the fastest 15 percent of drivers drive, and then setting the limit at the lowest speed for that 15 percent? This is one of the things in the book I didn’t know, though I often feel the speed limit on highways is too high for the amount of traffic and the quality of the road. Continue reading ““Accidents””…