Intentional Acts of Violence in Motor Vehicles: Suicide and Murder

Paper #:
  • 940725

Published:
  • 1994-03-01
Citation:
Nelson, W., "Intentional Acts of Violence in Motor Vehicles: Suicide and Murder," SAE Technical Paper 940725, 1994, https://doi.org/10.4271/940725.
Author(s):
Pages:
40
Abstract:
Many fatal vehicle crashes are intentional acts to cover an act of suicide or murder. Some experts estimate that this total can be as large as 10% to 25% of all motor vehicle fatals. The stigma attached to suicide causes families to conceal the details, notes, threats, etc. to authorities. Today's society takes vehicle accidents as a matter of fact and injuries resulting from them. Consequently, a staged crash is not always examined in detail to determine the causal factors which include murder. This is particularly true of single vehicle crashes in which the driver, the only occupant, is dead. Police may assume that since the deceased brought about their own demise that no additional investigation is necessary. The unfortunate result of reporting these incidents as “accidents” results in inappropriate insurance payouts which affect rates and inflate the fatal statistics that are used to enact vehicle regulations. The latter can increase the manufacturering costs of vehicles.The objective of this paper is to make the public aware of the use of a motor vehicle as a means of self destruction and murder by describing a number of actual events. Unfortunately, in most cases public recognition of the intentional act will be after the event has occurred. Insurance carriers and vehicle crash data collectors need to be able to identify and separate these events from their “accident” files. Hopefully, identifying the profiles of suicidal drivers may also lead to the appropriate medical & psychological treatments needed to save the lives of some symptomatic individuals.
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