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Seatbelts and Anti-Virus software increase your risk

There’s evidence to suggest that mandating seat-belts actually increases the accident rate in a country. The hypothesis is that drivers are  likely to take more risk in cars with visible security features like seat-belts than in cars without these safety features. Ironically feeling safe–is the most dangerous thing drivers are at risk from.

In addition because car drivers felt safe, and took more risk–cyclist and pedestrians were the worst to suffer. Somehow increasing the safety of one group of road users, reduced the safety of another. The results aren’t conclusive but I believe it, and there’s other fields of study that support this hypothesis as well.

Consider this study, that asked people to install malware on their PC–by offering them financial incentives that were as low as 1 cent! Of course it’s depressing that people were willing to install unknown applications on their machines just because someone offered them a pityful amount of money–but there was another surprising element that the study uncovered:

Surprisingly, we noticed a significant positive trend between malware infections and security software usage ( = 0:066, p < 0:039). That is, participants with security software were more likely to also have malware infections (17.6% of 766), whereas those without security software were less likely to have malware infections (11.6% of 199). While counterintuitive, this may indicate that users tend to exhibit risky behavior when they have security software installed, because they blindly trust the software to fully protect them

So it seems that seat-belts and Anti-Virus software that both operate in the foreground and provide visual confirmation that they’re protecting you–actually increase risky behavior among some of their users. The added protection that seat-belts and anti-virus software provide, gave their users a heightened sense of security–which is justifiable. However, users than took that sense of security and used it to engage in more risky behavior, which not only reduced the effect of the protection, but in some cases negated it entirely.

I’ll say it again. Feeling safe is ironically, isn’t safe.