RISK COMPENSATION

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
LANDSURFER74

RISK COMPENSATION

Postby LANDSURFER74 » 3 Nov 2010, 10:20pm

There is the following theory / hypothis; the safer people feel the more risk they will take.
1. Volvo drivers in the 70's and 80's were seen as the most dangerous group to motorcyclists.. they where impervious to injury in their Volvo ' tanks' and therefore did not bother to watch what they where doing!!
2. Seat belts have not reduced the accidents per 100,000 miles of driving, as we now drive more aggresivly because we are 'safer'.
3. Cycle helmets actually add to under age 16 accidents as "i'm wearing a helmet so i cannot be hurt"; This is what childern are told, " you will be safe if you wear a helmet"", WRONG!

DISCUSS .....

snibgo
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby snibgo » 4 Nov 2010, 9:27am

It's a fairly widely accepted theory, called "risk compensation".

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_compensation for some examples and research.

drossall
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby drossall » 4 Nov 2010, 11:33pm

Try it backwards.

I somehow persuade you to ride a bike that has totally ineffective brakes and dodgy steering. Do you ride more carefully than usual?

If no, you've got issues :D

If yes, what happens when I give you your own bike back? You get a bike with good brakes, so you take more risks (i.e. ride normally).

So instead I give you a bike with only half-decent brakes. You ride a bit more carefully than normal, but not as much as on the first bike.

So now I give you a bike that, I convince you, has brakes that can stop you on a sixpence. Presumably, you do the same thing, and ride a lot less carefully than on the dodgy one, and a bit less even than on your own.

There's really no problem with any of this. It's called self-preservation.

Nonetheless, it's true that, when I give you any bike that's safer than one with no brakes, you choose to ride faster, rather than stay safer. That's risk compensation. You're reckoning to stick to an acceptable level of risk, not trying to stay as safe as possible (which basically means staying in bed).

On a large scale, humans get quite good at estimating risks. We quickly learn not to jump off heights, sunbathe on railways, and so on. At least, most of us do. The rest don't get to estimate any more risks.

However, at a finer scale, we aren't that accurate. We really can't judge exactly how to adapt our behaviour because we are wearing seat belts, using ABS, wearing helmets, or whatever. So there's always a difference between our estimate of the change in safety resulting from a new measure, and the reality.

Remember that I convinced you about the stop-on-a-sixpence brakes. I misled you. So you go faster, but aren't much safer, and end up at more risk, because (with help from me), you over-estimated the effectiveness of the safety measure.

Which is how a safety measure that is actually a lot less effective than people believe could end up making life more dangerous, even if, in principle, it does actually have some positive effect.

The ideal safety measure, obviously, would make life safer in reality whilst making everyone feel less safe.

rualexander
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby rualexander » 4 Nov 2010, 11:58pm

LANDSURFER74 wrote:There is the following theory / hypothis; the safer people feel the more risk they will take.
1. Volvo drivers in the 70's and 80's were seen as the most dangerous group to motorcyclists.. they where impervious to injury in their Volvo ' tanks' and therefore did not bother to watch what they where doing!!
2. Seat belts have not reduced the accidents per 100,000 miles of driving, as we now drive more aggresivly because we are 'safer'.
3. Cycle helmets actually add to under age 16 accidents as "i'm wearing a helmet so i cannot be hurt"; This is what childern are told, " you will be safe if you wear a helmet"", WRONG!

DISCUSS .....


There's no reason why seatbelts should reduce the number of accidents, thats not what they are for, they are for limiting the extent of injury that might be incurred in the event of an accident. So you can't deduce that we drive more agressively from that statistic.

Possibly helmet wearing does increase under age 16 accidents, they may well be encouraged to ride 'riskier', or attempt stunts, if they feel that their head is protected.

Richard Mann
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby Richard Mann » 5 Nov 2010, 11:05am

rualexander wrote:Possibly helmet wearing does increase under age 16 accidents, they may well be encouraged to ride 'riskier', or attempt stunts, if they feel that their head is protected.


There's a point about age 13, maybe a bit less, when boys (in particular) should be banned from wearing helmets (except mountain biking). Up until they're about 30.

Richard

belgiangoth
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby belgiangoth » 21 Dec 2010, 10:42pm

LANDSURFER74 wrote:2. Seat belts have not reduced the accidents per 100,000 miles of driving, as we now drive more aggresivly because we are 'safer'.

But have they seen an increase?
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irc
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby irc » 21 Dec 2010, 11:21pm

Prior to the introduction of the UK seatbelt law various inflated claims were made for the amount of lives it would save. In fact it made next to no difference. I think a few less vehicle occupants were killed balanced by more peds and cyclists being killed. Here's a graph of UK fatal RTAs from 1926 to now. Can you see a step anywhere showing large numbers of lives being saved by a seatblelt law?


uk-fatals26-09.jpg



For anyone that doesn't remember the seatblet law came in to force in 1983. In fact after 1983 there was a plateaux for some 7 years interupting a steady downward trend before and after. Did a seatbelt law cost lives?
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hubgearfreak
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby hubgearfreak » 21 Dec 2010, 11:34pm

irc wrote:In fact after 1983 there was a plateaux for some 7 years interupting a steady downward trend before and after. Did a seatbelt law cost lives?


it looks to me like there were big drops during the time that john major and gordon brown lived at no.10

does having a PM whome the redtops paint as dull save lives?

irc
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby irc » 21 Dec 2010, 11:39pm

hubgearfreak wrote:
irc wrote:In fact after 1983 there was a plateaux for some 7 years interupting a steady downward trend before and after. Did a seatbelt law cost lives?


it looks to me like there were big drops during the time that john major and gordon brown lived at no.10

does having a PM whome the redtops paint as dull save lives?


Good point. Going further back there were hundreds of lives saved when Churchill was PM.
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

SilverBadge
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby SilverBadge » 22 Dec 2010, 1:06am

irc wrote:For anyone that doesn't remember the seatblet law came in to force in 1983. In fact after 1983 there was a plateaux for some 7 years interupting a steady downward trend before and after. Did a seatbelt law cost lives?
What were the wearing percentages before and after 1983? It is the change in behaviour, not the change in law, that will make the difference (if any). Drink driving deaths dropped with the introduction of the breathaliser - the behaviour change (not drink driving) came with the greater probability of getting caught.
The safety people at TRRL were of the opinion that people's driving would get steadily more complacent and it was up to engineering and legislation to continue coming up with ideas to reduce casualties up until they invented cars that drove themselves and thus eliminated the problem of the nut behind the wheel.
The graph shows total casualties which is of course dependent on total mileage. Post-war austerity rather than Churchill is the likely cause of the good figures - likewise in 1990 did oil prices stay high after Gulf War 1?

irc
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby irc » 22 Dec 2010, 6:10am

SilverBadge wrote:
irc wrote:For anyone that doesn't remember the seatblet law came in to force in 1983. In fact after 1983 there was a plateaux for some 7 years interupting a steady downward trend before and after. Did a seatbelt law cost lives?
What were the wearing percentages before and after 1983?


37% to 90%

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/article ... 4-0123.pdf

The article finds the law reduced driver and front seat passenger injuries. With quick scan I don't see any mention of the effects on other road users.
No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

snibgo
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby snibgo » 22 Dec 2010, 6:56am

From the recent DfT reported road casulaties report, table 2 (deaths):

1981 1874 peds; 310 cyclists
1982 1869 peds; 294 cyclists
1983 1914 peds; 323 cyclists
1984 1868 peds; 345 cyclists
1985 1789 peds; 286 cyclists

Against a general downward trend, pedestrian deaths peaked in 1983 and cyclist deaths peaked in 1984.

Mike Sales
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby Mike Sales » 22 Dec 2010, 10:48am

There is a lot of stuff on the failure of seat belt legislation on http://john-adams.co.uk/. Click on his seat belt archive. The entries "Britain's Seat Belt Law Should Be Repealed" and his series of open letters to the Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Road Safety, challenging him to justify his claims for lives saved by seat belts, are particularly relevant.
Adams is an important writer on risk compensation, and well worth reading for anyone interested in road safety, especially cyclists. He makes a very convincing case that seat belts have cost the lives of pedestrians and cyclists. He attacks the whole idea that making cars safe to crash in really makes the roads safer. He has plenty to say on the inefficacy of cycle helmets.
His book "Risk" is a brilliant read, and essential to any understanding of the subject.

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admin
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby admin » 22 Dec 2010, 4:25pm

Mike Sales wrote:His book "Risk" is a brilliant read, and essential to any understanding of the subject.


Quite agree. Adams suggests that the reduction in deaths attributed to compulsory seat belts is actually more likely to be because of the simultaneous clamp-down on drink driving. The data suggests that seat belts were most effective at preventing deaths around pub closing time (how do the seat belts know what time of day it is?!).

Risk compensation, as described so well my Adams, is alive and well on the roads. Ride an "ordinary" bicycle, and I am constantly being passed too close for comfort, with car drivers giving very little thought to how they're passing me. Riding my "dangerous" Windcheetah recumbent trike I find that car drivers suddenly have great respect for me, taking care when passing and giving me lots of room. The trick for cycling is to look as "dangerous" and as unusual as possible. Just towing a trailer helps :)

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hubgearfreak
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Re: RISK COMPENSATION

Postby hubgearfreak » 22 Dec 2010, 4:30pm

admin wrote: Just towing a trailer helps :)


i'm sure it does. also a mop does the job perfectly. but i'm amazed that anyone who's willing to hit their car against a person and steel combination is put off by a cotton mop head :lol: