REWIND | KMDI Speaker Series: David Shinar

January 18, 2018

Crash Causation: Prevalence versus Risk, Four Decades Ago versus Now


Our understanding of the causes of crashes has changed dramatically over the past half century. The findings from the Indiana University seminal study 40 years ago on the “Causes of Traffic Accidents” established the current common wisdom that humans are responsible for 90 percent of all crashes. It also provided estimates of the prevalence of the various potential causes such as failures in recognition (e.g., from distraction), in decision-making, and in motor behavior. Using a radically different approach of Naturalistic Driving the most recent study of crash causation arrived at a similar conclusion concerning the overall contribution of the human operator to the causes of traffic crashes, but to different conclusions concerning the role of various factors (such as distraction). In this presentation, I will focus on the role that the different research methods, the technologies they relied on, and the statistical models they employed have had on our understanding and perceptions of crash causation and crash risk, beyond the actual changes in crash causation that have occurred over this time. Finally, it will consider the role of automated driving on the various crash causes.


David Shinar is the author of the recently published second edition of Traffic Safety and Human Behavior. He is a professor emeritus of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel where he headed the Human Factors and Ergonomics program, and the driving research laboratory in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. He is an honorary fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and a recipient of their A.R. Lauer award for contributions to road safety. He has over 100 refereed publications, has served on the editorial board of multiple journals, and has conducted research for the U.S. NHTSA, the European Union, the Government of Israel, and private industry. Most importantly, he has a daughter and two grandchildren who now live in Toronto.