By Lynette Shaw
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Extra resources for Accident Proneness. Research in the Occurrence, Causation, and Prevention of Road Accidents
These only came later. Most of the earlier publications did in fact favour the concept, and I hope that in reviewing them I, who am quite frankly very much in favour of the concept, will be able to review them impartially and on their merits. I hope to criticize where I feel that criticism is justified, and to bestow praise where I feel that praise is due. But I also hope to do something which I feel is conspicuous by its absence in many of the recent reviews of the accident literature, namely to point out that there are two sides to every argument—and that a predilection for accepting only such evidence as happens to coincide with one's own particular psychological doctrine is not necessarily a sound basis for scientific judgement.
The earliest studies on accident proneness were German ones, but few of them are still remembered, except perhaps Bortkiewicz' study on horsekicks among Prussian cavalrymen—which still bobs up occasionally in the literature—and Marbe's work on the Law of Recurrence, which is well known on the Continent. But it seems that the truly systematic study of the personal element in accidents began in England just on fifty years ago. The first major projects were concerned with industrial accidents, but they nevertheless laid the foundations for the statistical study of accident involvement in any sphere.
Another example which Viteles gives is the work of Lahy in Paris on bus and tram drivers. This programme was also accompanied by the following beneficial results: The percentage of drivers discharged for incompetence either during or subsequent to training was reduced from 20% to 3-4%. Drivers selected by means of the tests were responsible for 16-5% fewer accidents than their non-tested predecessors. The selection programme reported by Lahy included tests for reaction time, motor suggestibility, immediate memory, perception of speed, distribution of attention, emotionality, etc.