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Over confidence can kill you - Dangers of Risk Compensation

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by robsalvv, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Stumbled across this article, which I thought it was worth sharing. It highlights that safety features are causing people to turn off their brains.

    I've highlighted certain parts for emphasis - and the little section in blue at the end, segways perfectly to Cheffie's riding naked thread.

    Just a final comment about the bold stuff in the middle about ABS. There's no doubt that driver fatality figures have been going down, but it's not due to ABS. If you kept everything else equal and just fitted ABS to cars, there probably wouldn't be a reduction in stats. It's interesting then that ABS is touted as a safety feature. Actually, you might possibly see the stats go higher as drivers with a fundamental misunderstanding of ABS, i.e., thinking that it makes them safer and will stop them sooner, drive in accordance to their new risk picture.

    This is not an ABS thread, it's a thread about risk compensation, which as a concept has been roundly poopooed by a certain few on NR. I hope this article puts those kind of arguments to bed.

  2. As far an opinion article goes it's okay. Without footnoted references it's difficult to check the 'sources' he's basing his arguments on. Not saying I'm disagreeing with what he's said but when someone says 'there have been several successful experiments showing..." Well, I want to know if he's actually read them or if he's internet surfed a bit and thrown in an article on the way out the door to the pub!
  3. Great article and makes perfect sense to me
  4. Interesting, but I've heard alot of it and i'm still going ATGATT. I feel vulnerable with gear, but without I feel naked
  5. Far be it for me to stir up controversy.

    He's cherry picking. I'm not surprised - confirmation bias and all that.

    I decided to really briefly check his sources (specifically, the reference to America’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety research).

    After a quick google search.

    Refer here:

    It's not quite as straight forward as the author would have you believe.

    I notice it's interesting he left out this snippet:

    Are motorcycle antilock braking systems (ABS) effective at reducing crashes?

    Yes. Results from recent studies by the Institute and HLDI compared crash rates for motorcycles equipped with optional ABS against the same models without the option. The rate of fatal crashes per 10,000 registered vehicle years was 37 percent lower for motorcycles equipped with optional ABS than for those same motorcycles without ABS. In crashes of all severities, the frequency at which collision claims were filed was 22 percent lower for the ABS models.10,11 Based on these findings, the Institute in April 2010 petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require manufacturers to equip all new motorcycles with this technology.

    IMO - this might be a classic example of confirmation bias. The author cherry picks data to fit in with his preconceived ideas.
  6. he must be beige then......

  7. Correlation is not causality.
  8. I assume you refer to the effect of ABS on motorcyclists.

    Indeed - it doesn't necessarily indicate causality. The alternatives might fly in the face of the author's premise though :)
  9. Ignoring the driver/rider aid argument for a second if you drive the same road for a week or more you'll get to know it and corner faster and faster with each run but the trick is to know when you've reached the cars limit before you throw it into the trees.

    I know I've done it and been lucky to keep it on the road over the years working at various remote sites and getting over confident only to find the wagon's limit before I found mine.
  10. It is not that simple, there is a big difference in how the most "safety conscious" behave and the way average joe does. Cherri picking beliefs is required of us all or we would be raving schizophrenics. So yes there is "conformation bias" in that article as there is in everything humans do, say or think. This article is just from a different perspective to what we usually get though the ultimate conclusion is the same- The machine itself is safer. (The operator however may become less safe)
  11. Luke, I've already quoted IIHS own words elsewhere that their own report is confounded. ABS bikes ridden by the conservative riders who paid out for the option would probably crash less simply because they are conservative.

    Their papers don't prove a causal link but they rationalise the correlation.

    What you don't know is whether those conservative riders crashed more or less after getting ABS. If more, the articles point is sound. If less then the article's premise is flawed.

    Either way, your line of thinking doesn't yield a flaw.

    - - -
    Tapatalking loud, saying somethin'
  12. Whatever your view, how could this article put the topic to bed? An article that aapears on a forum, written by a motorcyclist lay person about a theory and reference to some handpicked studies?

    It may well be correct, but I would say it is a long way off conclusive if looking from a properly scientific/research point of view.

    Anyway that's got nothing to do with the subject per se, so continue...
  13. Well it's a dam sight better than an NR with a chip on their shoulder saying the idea is bogus based on a sample of one.

    - - -
    Tapatalking loud, saying somethin'
  14. Just thought I'd add another little reference to this point ...

  15. I just like to check sources and impart my own particular confirmation bias.

    In this case - that the author was probably cherry picking and exhibiting confirmation bias.


    Just for fun, I asked myelf "How fast would you ride in the twisties - naked and with no helmet?"
  16. Actually Rob, what you are doing sounds like exactly what you are accusing the author of the ABS study of doing. They are attributing the reduction of crashes to ABS, you to conservatism.

    Fact is neither of you know. I suspect an exact opposite argument to yours could be run although again it really doesn't prove anything.

    I suspect that the overwhelming factor when buying the new bike is the risk compensation factor. (I do agree with you on that one). The new bike is likely to outperform and /or outhandle the old and we are liker to adjust our ride to the newer limits. That to me is likely to a more likely "universal truth" than people who have ABS ride more conservatively than those who don't.

    There is also the issue of exactly what is conservative. I may ride slower , and take less risks than, for example, Raven. Does this make me more conservative? On the other hand I may ride closer to my limits and misjudge risks I do take more than Raven. So does that make me less conservative?

    What the correlation shows is that more work needs to be done to try to identify the underlying cause of the difference between the two groups, if indeed there is a single underlying cause. Although buggered if I know how you would sort all that out in anything that could be deemed an unbiased scientific study.
  17. It makes sense, and there is no doubt that it happens, the stats are always going to be hard to interpret, but I think a good lesson to take from the article is too know that its still dangerous, and is always going to be more dangerous then other forms of transport, and that no matter what gear you use, you still need to be as careful as if you were in shorts and a singlet (not that you ever should be)
  18. Actually mate, I'm pointing out that the studies are confounded - which means there could be multiple reasons for the observation.

    IIHS's 2010 ABS effectiveness report (is no longer available and the 2011 version costs $143 so is effectively not available) had a pearler buried in the middle of it. I just happen to have a copy of the paper. The bolded bits are interesting - especially the risk compensation bit (highlighted in pink).
    So despite their own cautions they've powered ahead and made the assertion that ABS cuts crashes. I think the conservative rider scenario is genuine. I can also envisage how these riders would be more likely to wear helmets (Helmets are only compulsory in 20 states in the US) and protective gear - which again could go a long way to explaining the higher fatality rate of the non ABS, less conservative rider.

    Well you're making my case for me, however these studies are getting out there unchallenged and are being accepted hook line and sinker.

    The suggestion of "truth" isn't that ABS'd bike riders ride more slowly, but the suggestion is that those who chose to option their bike with ABS most likely are conservative. There's a crucial differentiation. It's no leap then to say that conservative riders are likely to crash less.

    Yes it does.

    C'mon Dave, you seriously putting that forward as an argument? If you're taking risks by choice then you're not being conservative. Would you have bought the ABS?

    Couldn't agree with you more.
  19. But that's the thing, the reference you found was the headline PR summary that IIHS published, not the actual report. What do you make of the excerpt I dragged out?

    The best safety device that exists on a motorbike is what's between the ears.
  20. "Without more extensive data, it was not possible to estimate the magnitude or direction of any bias of the estimated rate-ratio comparing crash rates for ABS and non-ABS motorcycles."

    Truth. And interesting that they still called for mandatory ABS (they did didn't they?)

    As an aside, my gut feeling is that ABS, in general, makes motorcyclists safer. Maybe not as much as the stats would show (due to the confounding 'conservative riding' scenario), maybe more (due to the "risk compensation" factor).

    But we just don't know.