A researcher thinks he’s found three genes that are linked to being accident-prone. What could this mean for workplace safety?
Dr. Jin Huiqing has spent nearly three decades in China trying to figure out why some motorists are more accident prone than others.
Among his findings: 6 to 8% of Chinese motorists are accident prone, which he defines as having caused three or more crashes in five consecutive years.
Now, by testing DNA samples of 350 Chinese bus drivers, he’s found that three genes show potential links to accident-prone driving.
Jin’s work isn’t just on DNA. He tries to find the root cause of crashes by identifying the physical or psychological traits of poor drivers, such as risk-taking or poor response times.
Chinese municipalities hire him to improve road safety.
It’s needed in China: Up to 300 people are killed on the roads each day. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for Chinese aged 15 to 44.
Jin uses a three-pronged approach:
- a battery of tests to screen drivers
- training with driving simulators, and
- surveillance cameras to closely monitor roads for problems.
The city of Jinan uses his system. Police there say traffic deaths have fallen by a third in the past five years.
Bus and taxi drivers in Jinan are tested. Those whose results show they’re predisposed to crashes are informed of this and advised on corrective action.
Now, let’s get back to the possibility that Jin has found one or more genes linked to being accident-prone. Columbia University injury prevention specialist Guohua Li, who is familiar with Jin’s work, is a critic of using DNA in this manner.
Li says it would be unethical to shape policies on granting licenses to drive commercial vehicles based on a person’s genetic information.
Imagine that Jin’s research is proven correct — that there is an “accident-prone gene.” Do you think it would be ethical to use this information to weed out workers who would be more susceptible to injuries at work? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.