Case Control Study of Speed and Crash Risk, Technical Report 1: Aggregation Biases in Road Safety Research and a Mechanism Approach to Accident Modeling


Gary Davis

April 2006

Report no. CTS 06-01A



In accident reconstruction, individual road accidents are treated as essentially deterministic events, although incomplete information can leave one uncertain about how exactly an accident happened. In statistical studies, on the other hand, accidents are treated as individually random, although the parameters governing their probability distributions may be modeled deterministically. Selection of one or the other of these approaches affects how data are interpreted, and here a simple deterministic model of a vehicle/pedestrian encounter is used to illustrate how naively applying statistical methods to aggregated data could lead to an ecological fallacy and to Simpson's paradox. It is suggested that these problems occur because the statistical regularities observed in accident data have no independent status but are simply the results of aggregating particular types and frequencies of mechanisms.

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