As an auto recycler one of the main ways we acquire vehicles is when they have been in a car accident. Generally speaking when a car has been totaled (deemed a total loss or un-repairable by the insurance company) it is sent to a junk yard to be recycled (striped of all re-usable parts) and then the shells is crushed and sent on to a steel shredding mill.
Since accident vehicles are a big parts of our business I set off to learn as much as I can about car accidents themselves, here is some of the information I accumulated. Human factors in vehicle collisions include all factors related to drivers and other road users that may contribute to a collision. Examples include driver behavior, visual and auditory acuity, decision-making ability, and reaction speed.
A 1985 report based on British and American crash data found driver error, intoxication and other human factors contribute wholly or partly to about 93% of crashes.
An RAC survey of British drivers found that most thought they were better than average drivers; a contradictory result showing overconfidence in their abilities. Nearly all drivers who had been in a crash did not believe themselves to be at fault. One survey of drivers reported that they thought the key elements of good driving were:
Controlling a car including a good awareness of the car’s size and capabilities reading and reacting to road conditions, weather, road signs and the environment alertness, reading and anticipating the behaviour of other drivers.
Although proficiency in these skills is taught and tested as part of the driving exam, a ‘good’ driver can still be at a high risk of crashing because:
…the feeling of being confident in more and more challenging situations is experienced as evidence of driving ability, and that ‘proven’ ability reinforces the feelings of confidence. Confidence feeds itself and grows unchecked until something happens – a near-miss or an accident.
An AXA survey concluded Irish drivers are very safety-conscious relative to other European drivers. However, this does not translate to significantly lower crash rates in Ireland.
Accompanying changes to road designs have been wide-scale adoptions of rules of the road alongside law enforcement policies that included drink-driving laws, setting of speed limits, and speed enforcement systems such as speed cameras. Some countries’ driving tests have been expanded to test a new driver’s behavior during emergencies, and their hazard perception.
A 1985 US study showed that about 34% of serious crashes had contributing factors related to the roadway or its environment. Most of these crashes also involved a human factor. The road or environmental factor was either noted as making a significant contribution to the circumstances of the crash, or did not allow room to recover. In these circumstances it is frequently the driver who is blamed rather than the road; those reporting the accident have a tendency to overlook the human factors involved, such as the subtleties of design and maintenance that a driver could fail to observe or inadequately compensate for.
The world’s first road traffic death involving a motor vehicle is alleged to have occurred on 31 August 1869. Irish scientist Mary Ward died when she fell out of her cousins’ steam car and was run over by it.
The safety performances of roadways are almost always reported as rates. That is, some measure of harm (deaths, injuries, or number of crashes) divided by some measure of exposure to the risk of this harm. Rates are used so the safety performance of different locations can be compared, and to prioritize safety improvements.
Bill Richmonds has been tracking car accident statistics as a hobby for three decades. He also does his own used auto part repairs and has been known to Own A Few Junk Cars which he works on in his backyard. For more details visit: http://www.raceautoparts.com
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