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Culpable versus non-culpable traffic accidents; what is wrong with this picture?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Human Factors, Cranfield University.
2007 (English)In: Journal of Safety Research, ISSN 0022-4375, E-ISSN 1879-1247, Vol. 38, no 4, 453-459 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Introduction: It is often implicitly or explicitly assumed in traffic accident research that drivers with accidents designated as non-culpable are a random sample from the population. However, this assumption is dependent upon differences in the criterion used for culpability. If drivers are erroneously categorized by assuming randomness, results could be grossly misleading. Method: The assumption of randomness leads to two predictions: first, no correlation should exist between culpable and non-culpable crashes; and second, the accident groups should differ on the variables known to be associated with accidents, such as amount of driving experience. These predictions were tested in two samples of bus drivers. Results: It was found that in a sample with a harsh criterion (70% culpable accidents) for crash responsibility, the drivers with non-culpable accidents had the features expected, namely, they were more experienced for example, while in a sample with a lenient criterion (50 % culpable), this was not so. Discussion: It was concluded that similar studies to the present one would need to be undertaken to establish exactly what percentage of drivers in a given population should be assigned culpable accidents, and construct a criterion that yields this ratio. Otherwise, the theoretical assumptions of randomness and non-responsibility will probably be violated to some degree. Impact on Industry: Many estimates of risk of crash involvement may have been wrong. Given the potential for erroneous criteria, a number of studies may make invalid assumptions from their data.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 38, no 4, 453-459 p.
Keyword [en]
culpability, traffic accident, bus driver, accident, crash, responsibility, induced exposure, automobile driving, motor vehicles, risk assessment, safety
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-87185DOI: 10.1016/j.jsr.2007.01.013ISI: 000250118800009PubMedID: 17884432OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-87185DiVA: diva2:37373
Available from: 2008-10-03 Created: 2008-10-03 Last updated: 2011-01-20Bibliographically approved

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