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Road safety Brain overload and faulty judgment cause most road accidents

A Swiss motorway

Faulty infrastructure and vehicles are rarely the cause of accidents in Switzerland, but rather human error.


Almost all road accidents in Switzerland are due to human errors of judgment or analysis in the preceding moments, a recent study found.    

Out of 3,900 serious accidents registered on Swiss roads last year, 95% were due to driver error, says the Swiss Council for Accident Preventionexternal link, which conducted a study on the psychological aspects of these human errors.  

It found that the most frequent cause was failure of the brain to adequately process information in a complex situation, especially if the driver was distracted by a mobile phone or radio.  

Another cause of accidents was a faulty analysis of the situation, such as misjudgement of distance or speed.   

These two types of error can be strongly influenced by other factors, such as fatigue, psychological state of the driver and environmental conditions (e.g. whether it is day or night, whether the road is dry or wet). 

The Council says that while awareness campaigns can be useful, errors are part of human nature and it is therefore more efficient to invest in the domain of road infrastructure and vehicle equipment for prevention. “It is important to promote on the one hand road infrastructure that is safe and can tolerate errors, and on the other hand intelligent driver assistance systems, such as emergency braking assistance,” it said.

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