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Dr. William Haddon, Jr. (1926 - 1985)

Dr. William Haddon, Jr. was born in Orange, N.J., on May 24, 1926, and was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He worked for 10 years with the New York State Department of Public Health, gaining a reputation for his research and analysis in the field of highway losses, especially in connection with alcohol-related accidents.


He was the principal author of ''Accident Research: Methods and Approaches,'' published in 1964, and was the recipient of many public service awards, including the American Public Health Association's Bronfman Prize for Public Health Achievement. William Haddon Jr., M.D., is widely regarded as the father of modern injury epidemiology.


He was appointed in 1966 as the first administrator of the newly created National Traffic Safety Agency and the National Highway Safety Agency. The two agencies were consolidated in 1967 into the National Highway Safety Bureau (NHSB); in 1970, it became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  As administrator of the NHSB, Dr. Haddon was responsible for setting the first Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards. When a new political administration took office in January 1969 Dr. Haddon resigned from the NHSB, and shortly after he became the President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), where he remained until his death in 1985.Under his leadership IIHS became a leader in vehicle and highway safety research.


He argued for a more scientifically driven approach to injury control and created conceptual frameworks, such as the Haddon Matrix, for understanding how injuries occur and developing strategies for intervention. His pioneering efforts helped transform the highway safety field from one focused solely on accident prevention to one that examines human, vehicle and environmental factors to identify the range of pre-crash, crash and post-crash interventions for reducing crash losses. Dr. Haddon believed that "the understanding and prevention of disease and injury should be the first strategy of medicine and that treatment, no matter how necessary, is not the logical first line of attack." Dr. Haddon was one of the first promoters of the airbag as a device for reducing injuries, and he remained its champion throughout the long debate over its effectiveness.

Selected publications

Book :- Haddon W, Suchman EA, Klein D. (1964). Accident research: methods and approaches. New York, NY; Harper and Row.


  1. Haddon, W., Jr. (1963).A note concerning accident theory and research with special reference to motor vehicle accidents.Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., 107, 635-646

  2. Haddon, W., Jr. (1968). The changing approach to the epidemiology, prevention, and amelioration of trauma: the transition to approaches etiologically rather than descriptively based. Am J Public Health Nations Health, 58(8), 1431-1438. (Full text)

  3. Haddon, W., Jr. (1970). On the escape of tigers: an ecologic note. Technology Review, 72(7).(Full text)

  4. Haddon, W., Jr. (1972).A logical framework for categorizing highway safety phenomena and activity.J.Trauma, 12(3), 193-207

  5. Haddon, W., Jr. (1973).Energy damage and the ten countermeasure strategies.Human Factors, 15(4), 355-366. (Full text)

  6. Haddon, W., Jr. (1980). Advances in the epidemiology of injuries as a basis for public policy. Public Health Rep, 95(5), 411-421. (Full text)

  7. Haddon, W., Jr., & Baker, S. P. (1981). Injury Control. In D. W. Clark & B. MacMahon (Eds.), Preventive and Community Medicine (Vol. 2nd, pp. 109-140). Boston: Little-Brown and Company.

  8. Haddon, W., Jr. (1981).Policy options for reducing the motor vehicle crash injury cost burden. Washington D.C.: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (Full text)

  9. Haddon, W. (1983). Approaches to prevention of injuries. Washington D.C.: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (Full text).

    List of William Haddon’s publications (Link)
    More about William Haddon (Link)

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