Accident Investigator Bias Potential

by John W. Hutchinson, Prof. and Assoc. Chmn.; Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky. 40506,
Francesco G. Scorsone, Prof. of Mathematics; Dept. of Mathematics, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond, Ky.,
John M. Roberts, Andrew W. Mellon Prof. of Anthropology; Dept. of Anthropology, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.,

Serial Information: Transportation Engineering Journal of ASCE, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 3, Pg. 255-262

Document Type: Journal Paper


Recent and on-going behavioral research suggests a potential for bias on the part of the accident investigator who relies on personal subjective judgment rather than thorough objective analysis. Experience suggests that such bias has the greatest potential for producing accident reconstruction errors; these errors reflect an expected low self-testing investigator behavioral predisposition, one that tends to augment damage, danger and threat. The most obvious ameliorative solution to this problem is extensive objective analysis training (in engineering and basic science) for accident investigators. However, because even engineers exhibit behavioral biases in traffic engineering decisions, such training must be coupled with expressive awareness training.

Subject Headings: Training | Accidents | Traffic accidents | Construction management | Traffic analysis | Coupling

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