When eliminating one risk increases another

Richard Donkin’s review of “Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things” in the Financial Times reminds us of what can go wrong when we try to address relatively rare, but nonetheless serious, risks and fail to think through the consequences:

When carmakers began to fit airbags as a safety device in the early 1990s a number of fatalities among infants in front seats led to a recommendation that babies be strapped in the rear. Sadly, out of sight meant out of mind in some tragic cases, when infants were forgotten by their parents who left them in hot cars on sunny days. Between 1990 and 1992 when car airbags were rare, only 11 such deaths were recorded in the US. But between 2003 and 2005, when almost all new cars had airbags, some 119 children died from being left in cars.

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One Response to When eliminating one risk increases another

  1. ginzu98 says:

    Need more information to go along with that one. Were there the same number of “hot days”? Were there the same number of children exposed? Are we recording the incidence more frequently and accurately now, than then? Ultimately, the question of risk is not even addressed! Were the increased deaths by hot days left in seat, offset by lives saved from being in the child seat in the rear? The author just barely addresses this and assumes that it is the case, or if it is, is not sharing all the information. Is this an example of bad or good stats by this site’s standards?

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