SAFETY LAST: Detroit and its Automobiles by

SAFETY LAST: Detroit and its Automobiles

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Jeffrey O'Connell, a lawyer with experience in automobile accident law, is hopping mad about the state of vehicular safety and determined to tame the Detroit tiger. His book appears at a time when Federal legislation has already been aimed at some control of the 1967 models; consequently, the edge of urgency has been taken off his argument. But it still touches on the lives of every citizen and should stir active support for supplementation of such legislation. O'Connell, with Arthur Myers, blasts the automotive industry for what amounts to criminal negligence. The basic problem is that industry doesn't think safety pays (Ford tried it once in 1956), and the authors document the industry's willingness to pay with consumer lives instead. The book is full of horror stories, in particular those relating to the Cadillac, whose fins have killed while the car stands stock still, and the Corvair, whose lack of readability they estimate has cost 10,000 lives (the needed changes would have priced it a hundred dollars above its competition). It also details efforts on the part of individuals and groups to place safety first, and gives a picture of how unsafe automobiles actually are and how much safer they might be without listing makes and styles. O'Connell hopes to do to the hazards of the automobile what Rachel Carson did to pesticides. He thinks legislation is the only way to police an industry which will not police itself, and his book offers fuel for further action.

Publisher: Random House