Scientists Claudio Feliciani, Alessandro Corbetta, Milad Haghani and Katsuhiro Nishinari executed an analysis on trends in crowd accidents. This analysis is based on a database of crowd accidents that was developed for the period of 1900-2019 through an investigation of press and media reports. Crowd accidents are defined as situations where mass gatherings of people lead to deaths or injuries. Results show that the frequency of these accidents has been on the rise for the past 120 years.
There has long been a worldwide trend towards people living an increasingly dense urban lifestyle. As a consequence, human crowds have been getting larger and occur more often, and in more forms. A review on crowd accidents creates the opportunity to get an overall image on whether accidents are on the rise, and to judge whether the efforts that have been made in the last decades have paid off in helping the implementation of preventive measures to reduce accident probability.
To enable a specific analysis, the following components were reviewed: event date, country, location, number of fatalities, injuries, estimated crowd size, purpose of gathering and income level classification of the specific country.
During the period of 1900-2019, a steady rise in accidents per decade was found. In general, “small” accidents with less than 10 fatalities are on the rise, while big accidents still occur, despite being statistically less frequent. “Safety in numbers” was also observed, meaning that when ratios were considered, dividing fatalities and the number of people injured by crowd size, a decreasing trend can be observed in relation to the size of the crowd.
The report also considered the specifics of each accident. A decline in sport-related accidents was noted as was a rise in religion-related accidents. On the other hand, a rise in accidents in lower-middle income group countries was observed, especially in those with areas that have a high population density.
The last conclusion that could be drawn from the analysis was that the frequency of crowd accidents has stopped rising exponentially, despite, or maybe as a result of, the global impact of the internet. Technological advances have made it easier to share and collect information about events that previously might not have been striking enough to capture the focus of the worldwide media.
The study draws the conclusion that it is now possible to monitor crowd accidents on a regular basis to determine whether the regulations in place are sufficient, or more strict regulations are necessary to ensure the safety of crowds at events. The authors of the journal hope that the lessons learned in the UK, where crowd accidents were evaluated and led to better practices, can serve as an example on a global scale. Nevertheless, awareness being the first step toward safety, the authors’ wish is that their journal could help in promoting the consideration of pedestrian traffic when designing infrastructure accommodating large crowds. The insights obtained from this study can help when developing diagnostic knowledge and to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of crowd accidents.
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