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Article
November 19, 1904

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RAILROAD ACCIDENTS.

JAMA. 1904;XLIII(21):1556. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.02500210046012

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Abstract

An eastern railroad president claims that certain railroad accidents are due to temporary psychologic aberrations that may occur even in the coolest and most experienced under special circumstances, without any specially obvious inciting cause. There is, beyond question, truth in this view, but it should not be taken as exonerating railroad companies and high railroad officials from responsibility. It is not very long since an accident, costing a number of lives, occurred from an apparent disobedience or neglect of certain orders. It was shown that some of the train hands, at least, had been on continuous duty for a considerable length of time beyond the usual term of duty, and lack of necessary rest and sleep was very naturally suggested. Railroad work is often very exacting, and there is too frequently caused a degree of mental and physical strain that is inconsistent with competency adequately to meet emergencies. The human

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