accident proneness


Accident-proneness is the conception that some people have a predispositions to be more likely to have accidents, such as car crashes and industrial injuries, than other people. It may be used as a reason to deny an insurance.

Early work

The early work on this subject dates back to 1919, in a study by Greenwood and Woods, who studied workers at a British munitions factory and found that accidents were unevenly distributed among workers, with a relatively small proportion of workers account for most of the accidents. Further work on accident-proneness was carried out in the 1930s and 1940s.

Present study

The subject is still being studied actively. Research into accident-proneness is of great interest in safety engineering, where human factors such as pilot error, or errors by nuclear plant operators, can have massive effects on the reliability and safety of a system.

Statistical evidence

Statistical evidence clearly demonstrates that different individuals can have different rates of accidents from one another; for example, young male drivers are the group at highest risk for being involved in car accidents. There also seems to be substantial variation in personal accident rates between individuals.


However, a number of studies have cast doubt on whether accident-proneness actually exists as a distinct, persistent and independently verifiable physiological or psychological syndrome. Although substantial research has been devoted to this subject, there still seems to be no conclusive evidence either for or against the existence of accident proneness in this sense.

Nature and causes

The exact nature and causes of accident-proneness, assuming that it exists as a distinct entity, are unknown. Factors which have been considered as associated with accident-proneness have included absent-mindedness, clumsiness, carelessness, impulsivity, predisposition to risk-taking, and unconscious desires to create accidents as a way of achieving secondary gains.

See also



Note: this article is partly based on public domain text from the U.S. government public domain document "Accident Proneness: A Research Review"

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