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February 1, 1936

Current Comment

JAMA. 1936;106(5):386. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770050042015

HOW CARS GO OUT OF CONTROL  There is a type of automobile accident in which the explanation commonly offered is that "the car went out of control." In many cases, however, according to Henderson,1 subsequent examination demonstrates that the steering gear, motor and brakes were in good order. It is hence really the motorist who "goes out of control" and the explanation for his action lies in an instinctive reflex, which submerges the conditioned reflex built up by driving a car. The reflex concerned is the "selfrighting reflex," which is excited by any sudden disturbance of equilibrium. It is a complex reaction in which the head, body, arms and legs are all involved. When it occurs in the driver of a car, the impulse that dominates him is to steady himself in his seat. He grasps the wheel with his whole strength. His arms stiffen, and he is as

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