Car Accidents: The Human Factor
Researchers writing for the European Journal of Epidemiology surveyed the major human-related factors that lead to car accidents every year. A report to Congress also detailed important human errors that led to car accidents. The hope is that the findings can help researchers, public policy-makers, and engineers make cars and roadways safer in the years to come.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration surveyed car accidents to determine what human and environmental factors would be most likely to result in car accidents. Over 1/3 of vehicles involved in a car accident were turning at an intersection, with 22 percent of vehicles actually running off the road in an accident. 11 percent of accidents were the result of a driver’s inability to stay in the correct lane. 12 percent of vehicles were stopped when the accident occurred and 9 percent of drivers lost control of the vehicle.
The study found that in 2005, traffic accidents were the main cause of death of people from age 3 to 34.
The report also found that inadequate surveillance of the road led to 20 percent of car accidents, while internal distraction while driving led to 10 percent of all car accidents. Decision-making also had an effect on whether car accidents occurred, with the decision to drive too fast being a major cause of car accidents. In general, in 41 percent of crashes, drivers failed to recognize a danger before the accident took place.
The European Journal of Epidemiology also performed a study of the groups of people most likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. Researchers classified the kinds of behavioral actions that would lead to crashes into four major categories. The first category involved people whose capacity was reduced for the long-term. These people included heavy drinkers and inexperienced drivers. While people can gain experience, it can be years before they gain enough experience to prevent significant accidents. The second category was people whose capacity was reduced on a short-term basis. Drowsiness, fatigue, drinking, psychological stress, and distraction were all factors that led to accidents. The next group were individuals more likely to engage in risky behavior. Overestimation of abilities, speeding, and not using restraint devices, were all factors that made individuals more likely to be involved in accidents. Finally, the last group were those individuals who found themselves in short-term risk situations. These situations included drug or alcohol use or suicidal behavior. Overall, the study found that diverse factors result in car accidents.
While there is very little to be done regarding risk-taking behavior, short of education and awareness, technologies offer promise that some accidents might be preventable in the future. Lane departure systems and run-off-the-road warnings are being developed by engineers.
As it stands, people’s carelessness or negligence is the leading factor in many car accidents. Sadly, these accidents take a huge toll on people’s lives and ability to work. Personal injury lawyers work hard to evaluate the human factors that lead to accidents in order to ensure that victim’s rights are protected. The Law Office of Johnson & Lundgreen