By Lynette Shaw
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Extra info for Accident Proneness. Research in the Occurrence, Causation, and Prevention of Road Accidents
Strict methodology is very desirable, but it need not be made the be-all and end-all of scientific investigation. One way and another the many technical difficulties encountered should not (as they have been reputed to do) deter psychologists from working in the accident field, even if very often their findings can only be interpreted in a general way. The more of these findings there are, and the more they complement one another, the more sure one can be that they are reflecting a psychological reality—even if supporting statistical evidence is as yet hard to come by.
Not only were these studies very realistic and down-to-earth, but they also displayed a most methodical, as well as open-minded ej^oach. Neither Greenwood et al. nor Newbold can be blamed for the misdeeds of people who later BOt only repeatedly quoted them out of context, but rephrased their statements until they were quite unrecognizable—a process which still seems to b$ going on today. For this kind of distortion is certainly not confined to the over-enthusiastic promulgators of the concept of accident proneness who followed in the wake of these early researchers—it is just as prevalent among its present-day detractors.
According to most of the recent "histories" of accident-proneness research one would imagine that the only substantive evidence of unequal liability provided by Greenwood et al and Newbold was that they found the distribution of accidents in a single period of time differed from a Poisson one and resembled that of the negative binomial—a finding which they maintained was due to innate unequal liability, without ever determining what other factors, such as unequal exposure to risk, could produce this same distribution.