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April 28, 1962

The Epidemiology of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Author Affiliations


Professor of Environmental Health and Safety, Harvard School of Public Health.

JAMA. 1962;180(4):289-300. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050170021005

The methods of epidemiology are useful in the study of accidental injuries and deaths. The control of automobile accidents requires consideration of the interrelationships between the host (driver), the agent (vehicle), and the environment ( both physical and social). Host factors shown to be significant include age, experience and training, emotional adjustment, alcohol, drugs, disease, and physical defects. The vehicle should be designed with protective features and adapted to human capabilities, limitations, and tolerances. Environmental influences likewise need to be understood. Problems such as the high rate of accidents at night exemplify the interactions between the host, the agent, and the environment. Application of this approach has resulted in effective preventive measures.