By Lynette Shaw
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Extra resources for Accident Proneness. Research in the Occurrence, Causation, and Prevention of Road Accidents
In the same way a number of studies have come up with positive correlations between the accidents in consecutive periods. Sometimes these correlations could be due to extraneous factors, because again influences like exposure to risk have not been controlled. But here, too, where the controls have been satisfactorily imposed, the positive correlations remain—possibly muted down by the selectivity of the groups used, possibly camouflaged by the concurrent effect of chance—but always there, and more conspicuously there with full recording arid higher accident rates.
A method such as this has some very satisfactory features, for it has no new disadvantages and some very decided new advantages. The practical difficulties encountered in this approach, such as maintaining uniformity of hazard, are inherent in all statistical work on proneness. But on the credit side there are some very important gains over the group approach. (1) It is now possible to test the proneness hypothesis within each individual. (2) It is possible to assess each driver separately and at a relatively early stage, and to grade him, as soon as his record has stabilized itself, according to a standard such as the average of the time-intervals or mileage-intervals between his accidents.
Not only were these studies very realistic and down-to-earth, but they also displayed a most methodical, as well as open-minded ej^oach. Neither Greenwood et al. nor Newbold can be blamed for the misdeeds of people who later BOt only repeatedly quoted them out of context, but rephrased their statements until they were quite unrecognizable—a process which still seems to b$ going on today. For this kind of distortion is certainly not confined to the over-enthusiastic promulgators of the concept of accident proneness who followed in the wake of these early researchers—it is just as prevalent among its present-day detractors.