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View Poll Results: Helmet wearing habits?
I've never worn a bike helmet 178 10.66%
I used to wear a helmet, but have stopped 94 5.63%
I've always worn a helmet 648 38.80%
I didn't wear a helmet, but now do 408 24.43%
I sometimes wear a helmet depending on the conditions 342 20.48%
Voters: 1670. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-28-12, 09:07 AM   #1301
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chip

You didnt explain just how when you rode into the back of a motor home riding without a helmet saved your life. Im sure all of us would like to know the mechanics of this crash.
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Old 01-28-12, 09:29 AM   #1302
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Very honestly, I don't know about the Dutch either as a cycling culture or otherwise to feel I can make an informed comment. What I will say is that there are plenty of Dutch who take an opposing view that helmets aren't necessary.
That was my point and the point of the study excerpt I quoted: recommending helmets goes against the grain in that country. Full text can be found in the link I provided earlier: http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheet...le_helmets.pdf

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Not wearing helmets doesn't mean people believe they aren't effective. Plenty of people don't put on a seatbelt for a short drive, but I'm sure they don't think they are ineffective (there does seem to be a very tiny percentage of people that are afraid of being trapped in the car, but I think this is a very insignificant number, even among people who don't wear a seatbelt every time they drive). The point is that saying "helmets aren't effective" is a much more controversial position (could even lead to liability in our litigious society). Repeating the mantra of "wear a helmet", in this fast food society that wants quick and easy answers, is met with praise from everyone from firefighters to teachers. Surely you must see this? We see it all the time... it's become a PR machine for many groups.

EDIT: All I'm saying is that it's fair to point out that there is a bias towards one answer over another in terms of societal pressures. That doesn't invalidate them, but it's a consideration when looking at their conclusions.
I take your point, and it's well given, but I'm nonetheless doubtful of the assumption that there is a universal bias towards, or ease of proffering, the one answer. Certainly not in all places, which is why I noted the Dutch example. And like I said, in many cases, the groups could simply remain silent on the issue instead of taking a stand either way. As for litigiousness, recommending a helmet could conceivably result in a lawsuit: "Group X said helmets will protect me, but I still hurt my head, so I'm going to sue." There have already been lawsuits against helmet manufacturers and, in at least one case, the retailers that sell them: http://chicagopersonalinjurylegalblo...s-lawsuit.html

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Old 01-28-12, 10:19 AM   #1303
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Tort reform is the basis of the helmet safety issue.
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Old 01-28-12, 10:21 AM   #1304
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I think "engages in riskier behavior" != "ride like a crazy person".
It does in the matter of how some argue here...
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Old 01-28-12, 12:12 PM   #1305
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As I said, "You may disagree with their data or conclusions," but these are nevertheless professionals in the fields of medicine, safety, traffic, statistics, etc., issuing these recommendations in the context of data. They are not merely Some Guy on the Internet spouting off personal opinion, without qualifications in the relevant fields, which was my point.
You are missing the point (and it's a big point).

The stated (or implied) benefits of helmets in the recommendations is presented as clear, simple, and large. The data (all of it, as far as anybody can tell) is incomplete, complicated, and messy.

Note that I (personally) am not claim there's no benefit. All that I am claiming is that there's isn't any good supporting data.

And your notion that it's only "some guy on the Internet" who is "disagrees with their data or conclusions". Some professionals disagree. And if you look at the data, it doesn't really seem that their conclusions are necessarily and clearly the right ones.

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Indeed, some of these people may have biases that override their objective assessment, some may have financial or political interests that skew their findings, etc. But, that is all strictly in the realm of worst-case hypotheticals. Without evidence to support such accusations
There isn't any reason to make these accusations: they aren't needed to explain what (I think) is going on. (I'm not making them.)

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I will err on the side of assuming they are well-meaning and honest professionals taking the matter seriously--not infallible but at least qualified to make an educated recommendation based on study.
As far as I can tell, there isn't good data to support the use of helmets (there's only incomplete and confusing data). As far as I can tell, the appropriate data isn't really possible to collect. Instead,

I suspect that these "well-meaning" professionals are making what they see as a reasonable and obvious recommendation.

Where the (possible) error is being made is assuming professional recommendations require good data to support them. This assumption is, in fact, false: good data isn't required for recommendations that are reasonable and obvious. (Indeed, might make sense to make certain recommendations even if good data doesn't (yet) exist.)

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But in the context of this discussion, you could argue it is not merely possible but common: many experienced cyclists choosing not to wear helmets
That's a very different claim than "some" (which is so weak as to be nearly meaningless).

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Old 01-28-12, 01:50 PM   #1306
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If you'll go back and look rather than apply others' arguments to me,
But you are defending it- that's why I am, once again, applying the argument to you. Go back to about page 3 of this thread and we've been down this road and you continue to defend the application of a behavioral theory that you seem to have barely a laymen's understanding of and you do so with hardly an ounce of confidence in what you're saying. For example:

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there just isn't reliable data as to how it applies to cycling.
And then you go on at length to defend the application of risk compensation theory to cycling! So, again, why not just remove it from the discussion?

I think it's continually brought up because the strategy in these kinds of debates, that rely on one party's skepticism, all that is necessary is to continually chip away by placing seeds of doubt. Even when they are barely supported. This way anyone wishing to counter the argument has to engage in a mindless back and forth about something that has no foundation in real evidence. Once that is run to a dead end a new bit of nonsense is introduced.

It's a weak argument, a dead end, and I think you know it.
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Old 01-29-12, 02:09 AM   #1307
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But you are defending it- that's why I am, once again, applying the argument to you. Go back to about page 3 of this thread and we've been down this road and you continue to defend the application of a behavioral theory that you seem to have barely a laymen's understanding of and you do so with hardly an ounce of confidence in what you're saying. For example:
First off, obviously I only have a layman's understanding; unless you have some credentials you aren't sharing with the group, we're just about all laymen here. Some of us have semi-related expertise, some don't, but on the subject of helmets in particular I think it's fair to say we're mostly laymen. I get that you were trying to be insulting, but that's just how discussions on Internet forums go. Second off, I don't have to be an expert in the field to discuss merits of the point; that's why you cite studies done by others who are experts, which I've done.



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And then you go on at length to defend the application of risk compensation theory to cycling! So, again, why not just remove it from the discussion?
Because that's stupid. We know it's a factor, and so ignoring that is silly. As I noted, there was one study that did find risk compensation problems in cycling; I'm just not going to go around shoving that in everyone's face because I know one study != fact. That doesn't mean you ignore it altogether because it's inconvenient to your position, that just means you must attach an asterisk noting that the area in regards to cycling hasn't been well-studied (which, again, != not studied at all).

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I think it's continually brought up because the strategy in these kinds of debates, that rely on one party's skepticism, all that is necessary is to continually chip away by placing seeds of doubt. Even when they are barely supported. This way anyone wishing to counter the argument has to engage in a mindless back and forth about something that has no foundation in real evidence. Once that is run to a dead end a new bit of nonsense is introduced.
*sigh*. Aside from the fact that it's generally the positive position, in this case people claiming helmets work well, that has the burden of proof, that's what debate is when you are arguing the negative position (that something does NOT work, that someone is NOT guilty, etc); planting doubt. And that's the whole point, really; as open and shut as people on the pro side try and make it seem, it really isn't when you look deeper. There really is reasonable doubt. Risk compensation is just one facet of the discussion and, as I noted, I don't think it's one of the more important ones due to the fact there isn't much study on it in regards to cycling (but there is one).

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It's a weak argument, a dead end, and I think you know it.
No, it's not, and I don't appreciate the implication that I'm being disingenuous. I've been nothing but civil to you, and you seem to have gotten a bug up your ass for some reason. Chill.

The funny thing is, you complain about people being biased and not being more objective, then you attack me when I'm trying to do exactly that because I'm not presenting a stonewall. I'm trying to be honest with the context of the evidence; that doesn't make the evidence moot and doesn't mean that we should "ignore it" (and you're questioning my science?), that just means it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Pardon me for trying to have an honest discussion... I forgot what thread I was in.

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Old 01-29-12, 07:26 AM   #1308
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Wow. Do you really believe that there is even the remotest amount of evidence to apply "risk compensation" theory to bicycle helmet wearing?- I mean enough to qualify as good science?

I've seen studies that demonstrate exactly the opposite. In other words, that helmet wearing cyclists take fewer risks. Mind you not enough evidence that I would label it as absolutely conclusive but certainly enough to support my own personal observations that lead me to believe that the probability is that the greater percentage of safely riding cyclists also wear helmets.
It would make a lot of sense to look inte which kind of cyclists might "risk compensate" and which not. My uneducated guess is that a study might show that very carefull and cautious riders will tend to wear helmets - so they'll have fewer accidents, helmets or not. On the other hand, if you go mountain biking, you may easily be the type who'll take a few chances more with a helmet on.

How this might influence the statistics I can't say.
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Old 01-29-12, 07:36 AM   #1309
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The posts Im waiting to read is a personal expierence by a cyclist that said he was saved from injury by NOT wearing a helmet. Reports and studies are basically meaningless as so many have an agenda. Also "report" by the usual aniti helmet trolls are meaningless!!!!
You'll get my story too:

2 years ago, I rode right into a low obstacle. Speed about 25 km/h. Flew over it with bike and all, toppling onto the ground on the other side, head first. Hit my forehead. Passed out for a moment. Lots of blood. The bike was a mess. Frame bent, wheels completely warped etc.

I was taken to the hospital, a bandage was put on, and I was sent home. For a few weeks, I could hardly turn my head, and my neck hurt.

The way my son described my fall (and I don't myself remember how I hit the ground) was that I so-to-say rolled with all my weight over my head. He thought at the moment that I had broken my neck. Now, will you please imagine the effect of a helmet in a situation like that?

Sure, I might not have bled near as much, so I would have made a nice corpse

Does this make me anti-helmet? No. I do think there are a lot of situations where a helmet may be helpfull, and it may even save a life here and there. But just as my anecdotal evidence only shows that helmets may be harmfull in some cases, other people's claims that a helmet saved their life may well be rubbish, not least because they were often told so by doctors who frankly don't have any idea.

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Old 01-29-12, 08:12 AM   #1310
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It would make a lot of sense to look inte which kind of cyclists might "risk compensate" and which not. My uneducated guess is that a study might show that very carefull and cautious riders will tend to wear helmets - so they'll have fewer accidents, helmets or not. On the other hand, if you go mountain biking, you may easily be the type who'll take a few chances more with a helmet on.

How this might influence the statistics I can't say.
This is an important point. We aren't, though, talking about mountain bikers.

The people who bring up "risk compensation" as a criticism are assuming that the effect you suppose might only apply to mountain bikers applies to road cyclists generally.
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Old 01-29-12, 08:18 AM   #1311
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The way my son described my fall (and I don't myself remember how I hit the ground) was that I so-to-say rolled with all my weight over my head. He thought at the moment that I had broken my neck. Now, will you please imagine the effect of a helmet in a situation like that?
Useless story. It's possible that the helmet would have reduce the force/load on your neck. It's hard to say that a helmet would have made it worse (which is the kind of story rydabent is looking for). That is, you might have been better off (and not needed to wait "a few weeks <before you> could hardly turn <your> head".
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Old 01-29-12, 08:26 AM   #1312
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This is an important point. We aren't, though, talking about mountain bikers.

The people who bring up "risk compensation" as a criticism are assuming that the effect you suppose might only apply to mountain bikers applies to road cyclists generally.
Sort of. It's a fair point, and it's part of the reason I think it would be bloody hard to get good data on this as it relates to cycling. A lot of variables that seem hard to separate. But keep in mind the concept of risk compensation itself has been confirmed elsewhere, where things like this aren't as much of a factor, as in the ABS case. Complicating things even further is the fact there is so much misinformation in society about helmets, which could skew risk compensation even further.
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Old 01-29-12, 08:28 AM   #1313
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Useless story. It's possible that the helmet would have reduce the force/load on your neck. It's hard to say that a helmet would have made it worse (which is the kind of story rydabent is looking for). That is, you might have been better off (and not needed to wait "a few weeks <before you> could hardly turn <your> head".
How would a helmet even theoretically help with a neck injury?
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Old 01-29-12, 08:50 AM   #1314
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For the anti helmet trolls to ALWAYS assume that a helmet will cause a neck injury is rather dumb. Besides who is to say that crashing on your head in itself didnt cause a neck injury if in fact an neck injury did occur.
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Old 01-29-12, 11:36 AM   #1315
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all cyclist are in the same boat, and we should be helping one another rather than attacking each other.
Ahem.
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Old 01-29-12, 11:48 AM   #1316
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This is an important point. We aren't, though, talking about mountain bikers.
Statistics of bicycle injuries do tend to lump them all together.
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Old 01-29-12, 11:58 AM   #1317
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Useless story. It's possible that the helmet would have reduce the force/load on your neck."
Hardly. A helmet would have caught on the asphalt, keeping my skin from tearing and my head from being able to roll over with the rest of my body. Of all imaginable scenarios, that's the absolutely most plausible.

You have a very bad case there!

Actually, it's exactly accidents like the one I had, which some neurologists have had in mind when they've warned about the possible disadvantages of helmets. Oblique impacts, and direct impacts that are turned into instant oblique movements of the head.
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Old 01-29-12, 12:05 PM   #1318
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For the anti helmet trolls to ALWAYS assume that a helmet will cause a neck injury is rather dumb.
Di I in any way or form state that helmet use will, as you say, "ALWAYS" cause a neck injury?

No, I thought not.

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Besides who is to say that crashing on your head in itself didnt cause a neck injury if in fact an neck injury did occur.
Your logics are wonderfull. Yes, I had a minor neck injury. No, I didn't have a severe one.

What was it you said about your IQ?
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Old 01-29-12, 04:40 PM   #1319
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How would a helmet even theoretically help with a neck injury?
Easy. In a car accident, it's possible that somebody might get a neck injury even with an airbag but it's easy to surmise that it might have been worse without it.

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Old 01-29-12, 04:41 PM   #1320
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Statistics of bicycle injuries do tend to lump them all together.
That's not good.

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Hardly. A helmet would have caught on the asphalt, keeping my skin from tearing and my head from being able to roll over with the rest of my body. Of all imaginable scenarios, that's the absolutely most plausible.
No, that's just a guess. You don't really know.

Of course, it's an anecdote as well.

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Actually, it's exactly accidents like the one I had, which some neurologists have had in mind when they've warned about the possible disadvantages of helmets. Oblique impacts, and direct impacts that are turned into instant oblique movements of the head.
This points to why anecdotes are poor support for anything.

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Old 01-29-12, 04:48 PM   #1321
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Sort of. It's a fair point, and it's part of the reason I think it would be bloody hard to get good data on this as it relates to cycling. A lot of variables that seem hard to separate.
Well, rather than guessing, I'd rather wait until we get good enough data to know.

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But keep in mind the concept of risk compensation itself has been confirmed elsewhere, where things like this aren't as much of a factor, as in the ABS case. Complicating things even further is the fact there is so much misinformation in society about helmets, which could skew risk compensation even further.
Do you see other riders? Do you see significant riders with helmets riding more recklessly?

I'd have to see the actual ABS studies before treating them as universally/generally true.

If you are going to be a good/competent skeptic, you should be skeptical of both sides!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-lock_braking_system

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A 2003 Australian study by Monash University Accident Research Centre found that ABS:[1]
Reduced the risk of multiple vehicle crashes by 18 percent,
Reduced the risk of run-off-road crashes by 35 percent.
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Anti-lock brakes are the subject of some experiments centred around risk compensation theory, which asserts that drivers adapt to the safety benefit of ABS by driving more aggressively. In a Munich study, half a fleet of taxicabs was equipped with anti-lock brakes, while the other half had conventional brake systems. The crash rate was substantially the same for both types of cab, and Wilde concludes this was due to drivers of ABS-equipped cabs taking more risks, assuming that ABS would take care of them, while the non-ABS drivers drove more carefully since ABS would not be there to help in case of a dangerous situation.[19] A similar study was carried out in Oslo, with similar results.[citation needed]
"Wilde concludes this was due to drivers of ABS-equipped cabs taking more risks".

No difference means risk compensation is necessarily happening?

But that's not the only possible or reasonable conclusion!

It's possible that the lack of difference is related to drivers not knowing how to use ABS (fairly common) or that ABS isn't useful in the kinds of accidents (eg "complete surprises"; one would think that cab drivers would be fairly highly skilled at avoiding accidents that they can anticipate).

The German study is a great example of not trusting conclusions without seeing the data those conclusions are based on!

It would seem more reasonable to expect risk compensation in situations where there was a clear perceptual appearance of increased safety (for example, people driving faster on well lighted roads). That would be a simple and direct causal link. It's hard to imagine what perceptual thing is going on with ABS or helmets.

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Old 01-29-12, 06:36 PM   #1322
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Easy. In a car accident, it's possible that somebody might get a neck injury even with an airbag but it's easy to surmise that it might have been worse without it.
Kids and small adults have been killed by air bags, is it easy to surmise that it might have been worse without it.
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Old 01-29-12, 06:42 PM   #1323
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Easy. In a car accident, it's possible that somebody might get a neck injury even with an airbag but it's easy to surmise that it might have been worse without it.
I didn't question whether or not the helmet actually might have made it worse; I said, how would a helmet - a piece of styrofoam strapped to your head - even theoretically help with a neck injury? That's not much different than saying elbow pads might help head injuries...

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Old 01-29-12, 06:55 PM   #1324
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That's not good.


No, that's just a guess. You don't really know.

Of course, it's an anecdote as well.


This points to why anecdotes are poor support for anything.
Sorry, that won't do it. You simply don't address my points.

1) I had an accident, the character of which was so that had my head stuck in a hole, nobody would have doubted that the risk of my breaking my neck would have been overwhelming. That is absolutely similar to the sort of effect a helmet would have in the given situation. A question of very simple statics. It was a close call. Only marginals were between me and exit. I'm glad that the marginal in the form of a helmet was not present.

2) You don't have to tell me it's anecdotal. I said so myself. However, that's irrelevant to my point: I told of an incident where helmet wearing would almost certainly have been detrimental. That is emphatically not the same as saying that helmets are generally harmfull, so you really have no reason for your desperate denial. I'm no anti-helmet crusader. But as I pointed out, my experience in that case matched the warnings of some neurologists. It fits together very nicely, right?

I did not relate that incident to prove that helmets are bad, really. My only intention was to show Rydabent (who might already had read up on the issue, had he cared to), that helmets may in some cases cause harm. Not that he understood one word of what I told him

Last edited by hagen2456; 01-29-12 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 01-29-12, 07:00 PM   #1325
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Well, rather than guessing, I'd rather wait until we get good enough data to know.
I'd rather not ignore pertinent data that has been studied to some extent.


Quote:
Do you see other riders? Do you see significant riders with helmets riding more recklessly?
*sigh* This is the typical argument I'd expect from someone who completely misunderstands risk compensation. The whole point of the theory is that it's a subtle affect and we don't realize we are engaging in it most times.

Quote:
I'd have to see the actual ABS studies before treating them as universally/generally true.
The world is your oyster.

Quote:
If you are going to be a good/competent skeptic, you should be skeptical of both sides!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-lock_braking_system

"Wilde concludes this was due to drivers of ABS-equipped cabs taking more risks".

No difference means risk compensation is necessarily happening?

But that's not the only possible or reasonable conclusion!

It's possible that the lack of difference is related to drivers not knowing how to use ABS (fairly common) or that ABS isn't useful in the kinds of accidents (eg "complete surprises"; one would think that cab drivers would be fairly highly skilled at avoiding accidents that they can anticipate).

The German study is a great example of not trusting conclusions without seeing the data those conclusions are based on!

It would seem more reasonable to expect risk compensation in situations where there was a clear perceptual appearance of increased safety (for example, people driving faster on well lighted roads). That would be a simple and direct causal link. It's hard to imagine what perceptual thing is going on with ABS or helmets.
Yes, I read that one (of three), and it seemed perfectly reasonable. Firstly, there isn't much skill needed with ABS. In fact, people complain it's led to skillful braking becoming a lost art; people just slam on the brakes because that generally works. You don't think a car being advertised as having a ABS braking safety system increases the perception of safety?

IIRC (this may not be the German study), it wasn't just the fact that there were not fewer accidents alone that was telling; it was the fact that people drove measurably closer and faster as well.

We know risk compensation is real, and I'm not sure why folks are going to such lengths to deny it. It's perfectly logical. We do risk/reward assessments all the time, whether or not we realize it. It stands to reason that if the perceived risk has been reduced, one is more likely to favor the reward over the risk. As I believe I noted earlier, there was an article in National Geographic ("How Teen Brains Work", I believe) about scientific research done on teenagers and why they seem to engage in riskier behavior. They found the reason was that they were more likely to value reward greater than risk (though they actually assessed risk the same as an adult), probably due to an evolutionary trait to make their own life and "leave the nest". The point is, when the risk/reward assessment becomes skewed, so do the resulting decisions.

And in the case of cycling, it's even worse because it isn't just your perception that matters. As noted in one study, drivers passed helmeted cyclists measurably closer.
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