Do smart tech safety nets make us take stupid risks?

Do product safety innovations actually protect us, or do they increase risky behavior by making us too comfortable? Most people agree that safety features and regulations can have a direct positive impact—seat belts being an obvious example from the automotive industry—but humans love to game the system, and we’re naturally willing to accept a certain level of risk to get what and where we want to. As a result, most people subconsciously do a balancing act between how much risk is worth taking and how much is being mitigated by various external factors—for example, seat belts may make drivers feel safer braking quickly, which may in turn lead to shorter following distances and increased speeds. How can designers and legislators innovate smarter by looking at this risk-exchange in the relationship between humans and technology?

Check out these links to dip your toes into the discussion about risk compensation and user behavior—but make sure you don appropriate safety gear first:

Risky business: safety regulations, risk compensation, and individual behavior

TEDxCopenhagen - Mikael Colville-Andersen - Why We Shouldn't Bike with a Helmet

A quick roast of safety fallacies—though we’re not so sure about the factual element behind some of the inferences, the concept of paying attention to—and properly weighing—real versus perceived risk factors and safety measures is an important one.

Buckle Up Your Seatbelt and Behave (Smithsonian Magazine, April 2009)

Could ESC (Electronic Stability Control) change the way we drive?

Collectively, results suggest that behavioral adaptation to ESC is likely in certain drivers; however, its proven effectiveness in reducing the likelihood of being involved in a serious crash probably outweighs any potential increases in unsafe driving.”