Rochester Today – The Unintended Consequences of Reducing Risk
Is our society causing long-term harm by rushing to reduce or eliminate risk? That was the question raised Monday morning by Jim Walters during The Power of Learning Show with Andy Brownell during Rochester Today on KROC-AM.
The Power of Learning Show can be heard the fourth Monday of every month on KROC-AM from 10 to 11 a.m. It's a program about critical thinking and using critical thinking to improve our personal and professional lives, as well as our society.
This month's program delved into the unintended consequences of the myriad of ways our society has acted to reduce risks, whether they involve safety improvements to our vehicles and road systems, the widespread use of antibacterial hand cleaner, or even the $15 per hour minimum wage that has become popular on the West Coast.
In discussing vehicle safety improvements, Walters noted the study found the addition of anti-lock braking systems proved effective in reducing the number of traffic fatalities from collisions involving two or more vehicles and pedestrians. Adding the safety feature to vehicles also coincided with an increase in fatalities involving single vehicle crashes, something researchers surmised was the result of drivers overestimating the braking abilities of their vehicles while navigating highway curves.
The minimum wage example is a bit trickier, but Walters contends it lessens the need for younger workers to take risks to get ahead and move out of entry level jobs. He wonders how many hard lessons won't be learned because young people have less incentive to take the risks that often lead to the failures that serve as the stepping stones to future successes.