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December 1972

Characteristics of Drivers Involved in Single-Car AccidentsA Comparative Study

Author Affiliations

Wayne Townes; Baltimore
From the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Drs. Schmidt, Perlin, and Shaffer). Dr. Fisher is Chief Medical Examiner for the City of Baltimore and Wayne Townes an accident investigator with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Maryland.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;27(6):800-803. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750300062010

This report describes a methodology for retrospective, in-depth, psychological investigation of driver fatalities. The results suggest that fatally injured drivers of single-car accidents can be differentiated from fatally injured drivers of multiple-car accidents on the basis of life-style and personality characteristics. Similarly, an overlap group of multiple-car and single-car drivers with a history of excessive alcohol usage may be differentiated from all other fatally injured drivers on the same basis.

The Katz Adjustment scales significantly differentiated the above groups from a normative population on five of 18 scales. Preventive methods suggested by these results include educational efforts directed toward sensitizing persons in contact with high-risk drivers for the purposes of intervention, and the development of automatic safety equipment.