A research team from the Medical School yesterday released its findings of a five-year, $300,000 study of automotive deaths, in which it calls the management of the traffic fatality problem "so incompetent it is appalling."
The report, entitled "Research on Fatal Highway Collisions," attacks the tendency of public agencies to apply the tag "accident" to traffic deaths without any attempt to make a thorough investigation.
According to research director Dr. Alfred L. Moseley, research associate in Legal Medicine, a considerable number of traffic deaths are murders or suicides. Most of these probably go undetected, he says.
The investigators suggest that more thorough investigation of auto fatalities would out down on traffic deaths of this type. They also recommend comprehensive safety measures intended to reduce auto deaths of all kinds.
Driver Training Needed
Of these, Dr. Moseley particularly emphasizes the need for driver training under less than ideal conditions, "When I see in the mortuary a driver who had his first blowout on the last day of his life, I am convinced that we must revise driver education to provide this emergency training," he says.
Among the investigators' suggestions for improvement in auto design are installation of seat belts or shoulder harnesses in all cars. They also call for the development of alternatives to the steering wheel because of the large number of accidents in which drivers have been impaled on the steering column.
Drivers' psychological problems are also considered by the investigators to be a major contributing factor in many fatal accidents.
The investigating team emphasizes that their work is not finished, even though their grant from the U.S. Public Health Service has run out. They hope that a grant from some other agency will enable them to complete their investigation.