One of the concepts I discovered while researching this week’s Geek Life column (which will be published here and in the Yukon News tomorrow) is that of risk compensation.
Risk compensation posits that we accept more risk as we sense a greater degree of safety and security around us.
So, for example, bikers who wear helmets travel faster and more aggressively than those who do not, generally negating the safety element of the helmet. In contrast, bikers who do not wear helmets travel at a slower pace, demonstrate more environmental awareness, and exhibit greater caution when, say, crossing an intersection.
So what effect does risk compensation have on text messaging in motor vehicles (an activity which reduces one’s reaction time by over 30%)?
I wonder if the safety-oriented design of roadways doesn’t give drivers a false sense of security that makes texting seem okay? Does the system of road markings, signs, and traffic lights seem to afford the luxury of textual distraction?
I’m just wondering…