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fire departments, health departments, and many highly motivated individuals, accidental death rates have declined.
Over the years the accidental death rate has declined from a peak of 86.0 deaths per 100,000 population in 1917 to 52.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 1958. This represents a relatively small but still significant decline.
This decline was largely due to a drop in non-motor-vehicle accident death rates which fell from 78.2 deaths per 100,000 population in 1917 to 30.2 deaths per 100,000 in 1958.
Efforts to improve occupational safety have been unusually effective, particularly since World War II. Death rates from work accidents have declined steadily.
Motor vehicle death rates however, failed to follow a similar pattern. Since 1900, the steady increase in the number of cars on the road, the increased number of miles driven, and the increased speed and power of automobiles (coupled with the abuse of this power) combined to raise motor vehicle death rates to a level of 30.8 deaths per 100,000 population in 1937.
The reaction to this alarming rise in motor vehicle death rates was of sufficient magnitude to bring into being certain control measures which somewhat relieved the situation.
Motor vehicle death rates then dropped slowly until they reached a plateau between 21.0 and 24.0 deaths per 100,000 population.
Apparently the point of diminishing returns has now been reached. Until research on a significant scale provides a breakthrough, it is unlikely that any further significant drop in motor vehicle death rates can be expected in the near future.
In the development of solutions to any major public health problem, there are five steps that have to be taken. These steps are as essential in developing methods for controlling accidental deaths and injuries as they were in controlling typhoid fever and smallpox.
1. Data must be collected and analyzed. This data may be collected in the field or in the laboratory.
2. Apparent relationships must be critically examined by skilled scientists to discover causative factors.
3. Hypotheses must be developed based on these investigations and analyses. They must then be tested under scientifically controlled conditions.
4. Control measures can then be developed on the basis of proven hypotheses.
5. Finally, as control measures are proven to be effective in actual practice, they can be incorporated into effective control programs.
The economics of accident prevention suggests that additional financial support for research to identify the true causes of accidents, would be more in the nature of an investment than an expenditure.
The problem of accidents is a big and costly one. It involves over 90,000 deaths a year, 46 million accidental jnjuries, and an estimated cost to the Nation of well over $12 billion a year.
Contrasted to the high cost of accidents is the relatively small amount of high quality research that has been undertaken in this field. I would like to read a brief statement by Dr. Ross McFarland, whom you all know so well, about the quality of accident research. It was contained in "Human Variables in Motor Vehicle Accidents: A Review of the Literature."
I quote, "A great deal of the published literature in the field of vehicular accidents represents a limited and, in many instances, a superficial analysis.
"A further defect of the literature is the high incidence of repetitious material, poorly controlled experimental studies, and oversimplification of the basic causes of accidents."
There are two obvious reasons for the inadequacy of accident prevention research today-lack of suitable facilities in which to conduct the complex, interdisciplinary type of research that is needed to effectively study accident causation and a lack of facilities in which competent research candidates can be trained to do accident prevention research.
The establishment of the proposed National Accident Prevention Center would go a long way toward filling this important gap in the Nation's research armamentarium.
Some reduction in the number of accidental deaths and injuries can be achieved by the conscientious application of the limited amount of knowledge now in our possession.
In Pennsylvania, for example, a 13-point safety program is in effect. Education is its keystone. An interesting and in some ways a unique facet of this comprehensive program involves the periodic physical examination of drivers.
By means of these examinations, drivers with certain major diseases or severe disabilities which render them unfit to drive are taken off the road.
Fourteen persons are now employed by the Pennsylvania State Health Department in its environmental safety program and the full-time position of traffic epidemiologist was established 5 years ago. I mention these facts in passing as evidence of the growing interest in accident prevention on the part of many State and local health officers and practicing physicians.
If and when effective control programs are developed that are based on sound scientific research findings and investigations, I am confident they will receive strong support from and will be quickly applied by State and local health officers across the Nation with the support and backing of physicians.
In conclusion, I wish to thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this committee for the privilege of appearing here today to endorse H.R. 133 and to assure you of the continuing support of the State and territorial health officers in the excellent effort you and your subcommittee are making to insure the safety of the American people. Mr. ROBERTS. Thank you, Dr. Chapman. I am deeply grateful to you for your statement and for your continued interest in this field. You mentioned that in the overall picture, and I believe you singled out these by inferences, improvement has been made in industrial safety.
Why is it that we fail to have the same effort or motivation in the highway traffic accident picture that we have had in the industrial picture?
Dr. CHAPMAN. There are several factors there that are quite. obvious, Mr. Chairman. One is that industry is in business to make a profit, and accidents decrease their profits.
Therefore, they have committed a substantial amount of money to research, experiments, and investigations in ways of making the job
safer to do. The result of this expenditure for research, and investigations, and experimentation in industry has paid off in providing a safer working environment; better education of the workers; and better motivation for the worker to behave in a safe fashion.
Mr. ROBERTS. I think that answers the question very well. Why is it that the same effort has not been made in the homes, do you think? Dr. CHAPMAN. Industry is controlled in a very tight fashion. The American people live in a democracy and each individual has a right to decide for himself what to do or not to do.
Therefore, what he does is largely motivated by the leadership that is offered to him in his home locality. Today this type of leadership, the type that you find in industry, has been unavailable, plus the fact that the investigations and research in home safety have not been done that have been done in industrial and occupational safety.
Mr. ROBERTS. Do you think that the gap in the home safety picture would be somewhat filled by the creation of this type of research facility in the Public Health Service?
Dr. CHAPMAN. I have no doubt about it, sir.
Mr. ROBERTS. I believe that the last time you appeared with reference to this bill, Dr. Porterfield was with you, and I remember distinctly the part of the discussion which dealt with the setting up of poison control centers which has been a very fine effort.
I personally know of the tremendous contributions that these centers have made and the feeling of security that they give a family when the little one gets in touch with a poisonous material, or cleaner,. or detergent of some kind.
Do you believe that this Center, as envisioned in H.R. 133, and someof the suggested aims, could operate to the mutual benefit of the public and also at the same time neither interfere nor infringe on the fine work that is being done by many private nonprofit organizations?
Dr. CHAPMAN. Yes, sir. I think you have evidence here today from Mr. Johnson's testimony that the mechanisms exist for coordinating the efforts of the various groups that are doing such excellent work in safety, investigation, and control.
I think the problem is a hypothetical one in that the resources today committed to the research and control of accidents are extremely small in relation to the size of the total problem they are trying to tackle, and I think that the mechanism exists for coordinating these efforts. The impetus should be less on keeping people from doing accident prevention that in increasing the contrbution of each of these groups in the accident prevention field with the necessary voluntary coordination that is now in evidence.
Mr. ROBERTS. Thank you very much, Dr. Chapman.
Mr. NELSEN. I notice that the accident ratio was about 30.8 accidents per 100,000 population and that has now leveled off to 21 to 24 deaths per 100,000.
I wondered what is the percentage in Pennsylvania in view of your rather extensive program. Have you any figures on the Pennsylvania situation?
Dr. CHAPMAN. On the Pennsylvania situation?
I have data relating to motor vehicle death rates. These are considerably below average in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania in 1962 there were 3.9 motor vehicle deaths per 100 million vehicle miles.
In the United States as a whole in 1962 there were 5.3 motor vehicle deaths per 100 million vehicle miles.
Mr. NELSEN. Thank you. In the instance of Pennsylvania, to what do you attribute this remarkable achievement? The physical examinations, or examinations of automobiles, or highway construction? Have you any further analysis of that?
Dr. CHAPMAN. I would be remiss if I tried to inject my own personal thinking into the situation. However I could call attention to the fact, though, that great emphasis has been placed on highway safety in the State of Pennsylvania in the last few years.
A 13-point safety program has been set up. A great deal of educational work has been done. The State Police have begun to use radar. They have a no-fix policy on traffic tickets.
They have a program of examinations for drivers. They have taken many drivers from the road as a result of their admission to mental hospitals, or having epilepsy, or participating in traffic offenses which involve irresponsibility. I think all of these factors combined, have resulted in an improvement in the picture.
Mr. NELSEN. Physical examinations aside, do you find quite a large number of drivers that need to be removed from the road? Has that shown up as a very contributing factor in accidents?
Dr. CHAPMAN. Of the 1,438,000 drivers who were requested to be examined, 28,000 were not granted their licenses.
Of these, 5,765 returned their license because they wrote in and said in effect, "I am not fit to drive and I don't choose to be examined." These 1,283 were rejected as a result of physical examinations and 6,603 had their licenses suspended after an accident, after admission to a hospital, or after a full special investigation. There is a big drop out from this program.
This not only involves those who are barred because of the examination, but also those who recognize they couldn't pass it and voluntarily turned in their licenses or those who for other reasons don't show up, sir.
Mr. NELSEN. On examination of motor vehicles, do you find a large number that are taken off the road as a result of the checking of the motor vehicles?
Dr. CHAPMAN. I don't have those statistics with me, but the number runs about parallel to the numbers in those States that have compulsory examination laws.
Mr. NELSEN. You mentioned the highway construction program and the safety factors involved in construction. I would like to call your attention to the fact that one of your top engineers is my uncle in the State of Pennsylvania.
Dr. CHAPMAN. We are very proud of the highway system in Pennsylvania.
Mr. ROBERTS. If he is doing his job as well as the gentleman from Minnesota does at shooting turkey, he is doing a good job. Thank you very much.
Dr. CHAPMAN. Thank you.
Mr. ROBERTS. We have had one bell, which signifies that the House is meeting, but the Chair is very anxious to try to finish today and I am going to ask the next witness, the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research of the Department of Labor, Mr. Daniel P. Moynihan, if he would give us his testimony at this time.
Mr. Moynihan certainly needs no introduction in this field. He has worked at the State, private, and Federal level, is the author of very fine articles on the subject, and I think qualifies in this field and we are certainly happy to have you, Mr. Secretary.
STATEMENT OF DANIEL P. MOYNIHAN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. Chairman, I know that you will be aware of the great personal satisfaction it is to me to appear before this committee of Congress.
I have followed your work for more than 5 years now. I have watched the careful, scrupulous, persistent and it is necessary for me to say fearless, manner in which you have approached a vast and incoherent, and singularly intractable subject.
You have done what no university, no Department of Government, has been able to do. You have quite transformed our understanding of the nature of the problem of accidental deaths and injuries.
It would be out of place for me, Mr. Chairman, to presume to commend you for your work, but as a sometimes professor of political science, I will say that students of American Government would find it instructive to contrast the results which your committee has obtained on the basis of a most modest expenditure of funds with the results of far more extensive efforts by agencies of local, State, and Federal governments.
As you know, sir, the administration has been most conscious of the work of your committee and most concerned to make use of the many insights which you have developed, particularly in the field of traffic safety.
During the 1960 presidential campaign, President Kennedy stated, and I quote: "Traffic accidents constitute one of the greatest, perhaps, the greatest, of the Nation's public health problems."
He added that the interstate highway program provides an excellent opportunity for the Federal Government to begin fulfilling its responsibilities in the field of highway safety."
As you know, the administration has since established the Office of Highway Safety in the Bureau of Public Roads, the Department of Commerce, and has moved ahead on many fronts against this pervasive problem.
H.R. 133, providing for the establishment of a National Accident Prevention Center, is, of course, identical to the bill with that number introduced by you in the 87th Congress.
Mr. Charles Donahue, the Solicitor of Labor, appeared before your committee on February 21, 1962, and stated that the Department of Labor had every sympathy for this important and salutary measure, as he described it.
On that occasion Mr. Donahue provided the committee with an excellent summary of the various responsibilities of the Department of Labor in the field of safety.
Secretary Wirtz has addressed a brief but similar statement to Congressman to Oren Harris, the chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, and I will not burden you to repeat this material, but I will be pleased to answer any questions which may have since occurred to you.