Picks and Pans Review: Reckless Disregard
On May 14, 1988, a Kentucky school bus struck by a pickup truck burst into flames and became the worst drunk-driving accident in the nation's history. Twenty-four children and three adults died. Two families, the Fairs and the Nunnallees, discovered that the fire was not so much the fault of a drunk driver as of the bus's poor design.
Kunen, a lawyer and former PEOPLE associate editor who originally reported the story for the magazine, has written a chilling account of their legal battle. The Fairs and Nunnallees learned that the Ford Motor Company, manufacturer of the bus's chassis, chose not to cover its fuel tank with a steel cage (a regulation that went into effect nine days after the bus was manufactured and might have prevented the fire). The company had found in previous suits that fighting litigants was more cost-effective than making safer vehicles.
Kunen documents Ford's longstanding reluctance to comply with mandatory safety regulations, re-creates the crash and examines the lives of its victims. Combining strong reporting with sensitive insight, Reckless Disregard is a powerful story that dramatizes the effect decisions made in corporate boardrooms have on everyday lives. (Simon & Schuster, $23)