So call the seat belt a boon to safety — no doubt true — but credit it too with spurring the modern study of risk compensation, which by now has been observed well beyond the highway—”in the workplace, on the playing field, at home, in the air.” When people perceive greater safety in skydiving, living in flood zones, having unprotected sex or even in high finance, they evidently take more chances.
My friend Jerry had a great idea…replace seat belts with huge metal spikes on steering wheels. Build all cars so that any crash will kill the driver. That will make people much more careful.
It goes along well with my idea of requiring every person on a airplane to be armed. Don’t own a gun? You’ll be handed one right after passing through the metal detector–sixteen in the clip and one in the chamber.
In all seriousness, the risk compensation thing explains why rugby is actually safer than football. With no pads you are a little more careful about what you do with your face and shoulders. That, or you have a very short career.