Human factors in the causation of road traffic crashes

Eur J Epidemiol. 2000;16(9):819-26. doi: 10.1023/a:1007649804201.


Road traffic crashes (RTCs) are responsible for a substantial fraction of morbidity and mortality and are responsible for more years of life lost than most of human diseases. In this review, we have tried to delineate behavioral factors that collectively represent the principal cause of three out of five RTCs and contribute to the causation of most of the remaining. Although sharp distinctions are not always possible, a classification of behavioral factors is both necessary and feasible. Thus, behavioral factors can be distinguished as (i) those that reduce capability on a long-term basis (inexperience, aging, disease and disability, alcoholism, drug abuse), (ii) those that reduce capability on a short-term basis (drowsiness, fatigue, acute alcohol intoxication, short term drug effects, binge eating, acute psychological stress, temporary distraction), (iii) those that promote risk taking behavior with long-term impact (overestimation of capabilities, macho attitude, habitual speeding, habitual disregard of traffic regulations, indecent driving behavior, non-use of seat belt or helmet, inappropriate sitting while driving, accident proneness) and (iv) those that promote risk taking behavior with short-term impact (moderate ethanol intake, psychotropic drugs, motor vehicle crime, suicidal behavior, compulsive acts). The classification aims to assist in the conceptualization of the problem that may also contribute to behavior modification-based efforts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accident Proneness
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Automobile Driving / psychology
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Causality
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Fatigue / complications
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control