By Lynette Shaw
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Extra resources for Accident Proneness. Research in the Occurrence, Causation, and Prevention of Road Accidents
Even Greenwood's findings on the distribution of accidents in one period do not deserve the scorn with which they are so often treated. Since those early dafs a great many people have unwisely used a distribution of accidents in one single BEGINNINGS OF EMPIRICAL RESEARCH 33 period (as often as not without the proper controls over factors like exposure or risk) to "prove" the existence of accident proneness. But at the same time it should be noted that every study where it has been possible to impose strict controls has come up with distributions which are very, very different from chance; and that these distributions do seem to be one indication of unequal liability.
But, nevertheless, she concluded that an element of individual susceptibility was definitely present and that "the consistency of this tendency to accidents is shown by the association found between (1) accidents in two different periods, (2) accidents of one kind and accidents of another type, (3) accidents in the factory and accidents at home". e. correlations of 0-2 and 0-3 for small groups and the possibility in some cases of a "tendency to report"—but it must be noted that it is not a statement of fact.
Goodness knows there are few enough of these controlled studies, but that is because of the very real practical difficulties involved in imposing such controls. But, let it be noted, no controlled study has contradicted the findings of Greenwood and Newbold. In the same way a number of studies have come up with positive correlations between the accidents in consecutive periods. Sometimes these correlations could be due to extraneous factors, because again influences like exposure to risk have not been controlled.