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Another example of cognitive dissonance was furnished in 1960. Edward R. Murrow broadcast a violent program called "The Great Holiday Massacre." A subsequent poll by the National Safety Council indicated, a reduction in personal feeling of involvement in half of the viewers. »
Since few wish to kill or injure themselves, some legal theorists have claimed that change in law would not diminish the major deterrent value of fear of self-injury. However, it is the experience of accident analysis engineers that only the smallest of margins separates the minor incident from the fatal. If the minor accident does not change the behavior pattern which was the causative factor, then a major accident will result.
Many people subconsciously ignore the real danger present in a hazardous practice. If they faced the danger, a state of anxiety would ensue. To eliminate this unpleasantness, they tell themselves that the fateful consequences will not happen to them. This rationalization is "cognitive dissonance." Few people would deliberately ram their car into a stone wall or into the rear of a heavy truck. Yet many drivers behave no differently than accident involved factory workers or the millions of people who smoke cigarettes. Many drivers do not govern their behavior, as demonstrated by their glaring non-use of seat belts, by reason of fear of self-injury. Therefore, it seems apparent that fear of injury is not a major deterrent to low factor driving behavior.
ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND FATIGUE
Researchers have already pointed to alcohol, drugs and fatigue as major causes of highway accidents. Therefore, these deserve special consideration by those charged with responsibility for improving highway safety through legislation and other means of control.
Substances are in use everywhere which lighten the burden of care and promote a temporary sense of well-being. There is a tremendous range of mood-elevating euphoriants. Coffee and tea are at the mild end of the spectrum. The "dark" end contains such evils as methadone, morphine, and heroin. In our society, the traditional euphoriant has been alcohol.
Most euphoriants are relatively harmless. Coffee, tea, and cocoa are innocuous. Marijuana is intoxicating, but it is not proved that it has long-range, permanent effects. This is not true of opium, cocaine or their derivatives. Alcohol seems to occupy an intermediate position. We live in a society where it is customary to drink. It is the abstainer who strikes us as abnormal. With alcohol we offer hospitality and sociability. Over a glass we enjoy old friends and make new ones. This sort of drinking, open and well moderated, is generally harmless and is conducive to good relationships. 40 Used in moderation, alcohol does not cause serious ill effects. But some people cannot use alcohol with restraint. Excessive use causes unhappiness in afflicted individuals and to their families. Indiscriminate use of alcohol also plays a significant role in automobile accidents.
Many scientific investigations have shown that alcohol interferes somewhat with reflexes, causing slower reaction time and impairing muscular coordination. More important, it depresses higher brain functions which control judgment and caution. It is the repression of the normal restraints and inhibitions which make many drinkers vociferous and sociable. This same dampening of normal caution on the highway leads the affected driver to become an extreme low factor driver, and his probability of causing an accident is increased.
Alcohol is not the only substance in widespread use to alleviate the tensions created by the frustrations of modern society. Dependence on substances that offer escape from the pains and problems of life is ancient, but it never reached the stage in which a Christmas gift advertisement from a mail order house offers a small gold case divided into two sections for carrying pills - one type to pep you up and the other to calm you down. In a recent year, Americans swallowed a billion and a quarter tranquilizer pills, roughly three hundred tons. To match those who want to pep themselves up, there are many who want to quiet down. These have turned to barbiturates such as phenobarbital (most often used as "sleeping pills"). The barbiturates, if taken in excessive doses, may cause dangerous physical reactions as well as phychological addiction.41 Large doses are potentially lethal. Any size dose may cause accidents because perception becomes distorted and reactions and response are slowed. Barbiturates are a leading cause of automobile accidents, especially when combined with alcohol. Users may react to the drug more at times. They may even become confused about how many pills they have taken and die of an overdose. Barbiturates cause many accidental deaths in the United States and are frequently involved in suicides. 4
Other common medications can adversely affect driving. Among these are ataractics (tranquilizers) and antihistamines (anti-cold tablets) which may diminish alertness of the driver. Some people fall asleep behind the wheel because of their anti-cold tablets not their colds. Benzedrine and dexedrine, which are supposed to produce artificial alertness, also can have a paradoxical reaction, especially in addicts who suffer from sudden "abstention sleepiness" when the drug has worn off.43
Authorities recognize that neither laws nor awareness of the medical facts can prevent drug abuse. Nor can we stop people from using alcohol or cigarettes to relieve their psychic wounds. Ours is a drug-oriented culture. From aspirin to sleeping pills, from tranquilizers to the "pill," all Americans are ingesting drugs in greater variety and greater numbers than ever before. 44
The general public is unaware of the widespread incidence of alcoholism. Alcoholism is usually identified with the very last stage of this affliction, painfully visible in the skid row derelict, the chronic court offender, the indigent homeless man. The community focuses on the last stage alcoholic who, it is estimated, constitutes only from three to five percent of the six and one-half million alcoholic population.45 These millions are everywhere among us, mostly in the middle and early stages of alcoholism.
They are often unrecognized save by those close to them but are costly to the community far beyond the easily measurable cost of the visible minority.
It is important not to regard all users of alcoholic beverages as alcoholics. Although eighty million Americans drink alcohol, less than seven million are alcoholics.46 There are wide variations in the consumption of alcohol as shown by the following classification:
1. Total abstainers who use no alcohol.
2. Moderate or social drinkers who drink on social
occasions or with meals, but rarely to excess.
3. Sporadic excessive drinkers who drink excessively
on holidays or other special occasions.
Heavy social drinkers who habitually drink heavily
Alcoholic drinkers who have developed a disease
Indiscriminate use of alcohol is one of the principal causes of traffic accidents, but is not the only drug which is thought to be such a hazard. Nearly everyone is familiar with the symptom of drowsiness and its accident potential. Common over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines, cold and hay fever tablets, and mild sedatives may dull a person's reflexes and make him unexpectedly sleepy. When used with alcohol they can produce an effect much greater than expected. This is especially true of the combination of barbiturates (a common ingredient in sleeping pills and sedatives) and alcohol, both of which depress the central nervous system. 47 The shorter acting barbiturates are the most commonly abused, they are called barbs and goof-balls. So-called tranquilizers can also cause states of intoxication and physical dependence. The common names of some of the newer depressant drugs are Miltown, Equanil, Mepropan, Valium, and Librium. 48 Excess use results in sluggishness, confusion, emotional instability, and a lack of coordination. The emotional instability produced can contribute to the performance of aggressive acts. The confusion and lack of coordination leads to accidents. The signs and symptoms of barbiturate and alcohol intoxication are similar, as are the signs and symptoms of abstinence from these two drugs. Alcohol and barbiturates are essentially addictive and interchangeable in chronic intoxications. Repeated use of barbiturates,
usually in amounts exceeding the usual medical dose, can result in psychic dependence. Tolerance to barbiturates can develop with relatively low doses, becoming evident within seven days. When taken regularly in the excessive amounts needed to get "high," physical dependence can occur. There is some similarity to the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Convulsions may occur, and there is also a possibility of a psychotic
Amphetamines are prescribed to relieve mild depression and curb appetite in overweight patients. The most commonly abused stimulants are Benzadrine, Dexidrine and Methedrine, which are called pep pills, bennies, and speed in the vernacular. As with the barbiturates, the body builds up a tolerance which requires increasingly large doses.
When used, "pep pills" tend to mask fatigue and tasks are attempted which cannot be handled, leading to mishaps. Some drivers try to extend the time they might spend behind the wheel by taking amphetamines. Automobile accidents may result because of both the excitation produced and the excessive fatigue which may break through at an inopportune time. 50
LSD or "acid" is the most notorious of the hallucinogen drugs. Other forms are found in some rare varities of mushrooms, cactus, and sunflower seeds. Other names for this drug are peyote, mescaline and psilocybin. These drugs have received wide publicity and possess a particular attraction for certain psychologically and socially maladjusted persons. LSD is taken to induce reveries and to obtain "psychological insight." Visual hallucinations and delusions occur. The user may think that he can fly or float with ease and that he is invincible. Such psychological effects impair judgment and can lead to accidents. 51
Another drug, marijuana, is found in the flowering tops and leaves of the hemp plant which grows in mild climates throughout the world. In the Middle East it is called hashish. The street names for this substance are pot, tea, grass, weed, Mary Jane, and hash. The effects on the emotions and senses vary with the amount and strength of the marijuana. There is no evidence of tolerance, and there is an absence of physical dependence so that there is no characteristic abstinence syndrome when the drug is discontinued. Moderate to strong psychic dependence may result because of the subjective effects. Sense of time and distance frequently become distorted. Something gear may seem far away. Driving is dangerous while under its influence."
Fatigue, even falling short of the sleep point, increases the probability of mishap. The critical point at which fatigue becomes an accident determinant in any individual has not been as certained. However, it is quite certain that extreme fatigue leads to increased accident frequency. For example, in a shell factory in England during World War II, the accident rate among women workers was reduced by more than 60 percent when the factory was changed from a twelve-hour to a ten-hour day. 53
Another study was made to separate the influence of output which is related to fatigue and to accident frequency. 54 Data used was obtained over a relatively long period of time in industrial plants which had eight-hour and ten-hour shifts. Analysis employed a simple index of accident frequency per unit of production. The accident index paralleled the output curve closely during the eight-hour shift. During the ten-hour shift, however, considerable fatigue developed leading to a rise in the accident index during the last two hours despite declining productivity.
System analysis is an organized method of evaluating the effects of change. The need is greatest in those areas which have complex factors and to evaluate ramifications of a new system before it is put into effect.
The heart of the systematic analysis process is the construction and use of a "model." The term "model" does not necessarily indicate a physical replica of that being studied. The model, which may or may not be a physical entity, is a simplified representation of the operation being analyzed. To evaluate a total change in a complex process, it is necessary to have the best possible knowledge of the atributes of that which will be changed. It is common, in complex systems, to analyze through models expressed in mathematical terms. Thus a model is a systematic way to describe known characteristics. The utility of a model, regardless of form, is determined not by its complexity or its intricate description of the situation but by its worth as a tool to predict the direction of change.
The first step in formulating a model is to analyze the past behavior of the process under study. The basic behavioral characteristics should be determined. This much must be known before any meaningful change is made. A model may be constructed from known experimental data. If the model is valid, it will be verified by further data. A further test of validity, if it is available, is to corroborate the postulated model by observation of the behavior of the system parameters or factors. This can be accomplished by amplification. A good example is the operation of a triode vacuum tube circuit. An increase in the grid bias (a greater negative charge) will decrease the flow of current in the circuit. The decreased current activity confirms the blocking effect of the negative grid bias.
Certainly, in the situation at hand, there is an urgent need for study and model formulation, particularly when considering the doubt cast in the first portion of this paper on the underlying assumptions of the proposed no-fault system. It is not sufficient to say that some future research may determine the relationship between accident frequency and