A Crazy Experiment to Reduce Your Likelihood of a North Carolina Car Accident (Don’t Try This At Home!)

September 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you or a relative recently got hurt in an auto accident in Charlotte; or maybe you had a close call recently on I-95. In either case, you want to improve your driving skills and general sense of the road.

When people think about increasing their safety, they tend to dwell on one thought: “how can I make my vehicle more accident proof?” For instance, say you’re driving an old clunker. You might think about upgrading to a car with automatic brakes, airbags, stability control, and other bells and whistles. From a statistical point of view, it makes sense that upgrading your vehicle like this would increase your safety.

But many people don’t realize that increasing your vehicle’s safety rating won’t necessarily decrease your likelihood of injury/accidents!


Because when you drive safer vehicles, you will likely compensate by engaging in riskier behavior. Subconsciously, if you know that you’ve got an antilock brake system, you might drive just a wee little bit faster during a rainstorm. As a result, you essentially negate your safety advantage – or even negate it and then some!

It would be interesting to do a study that flips this phenomenon on its head.

For instance, how might someone’s driving change if you stripped away certain auto safety features? Obviously, no one at home should try this! But there is at least some logic to the hypothesis that eliminating certain safety features might motivate drivers to behave far more cautiously… and thus possibly to reduce their likelihood of getting into injury crashes.

For instance, imagine purposefully NOT wearing your seatbelt.

Obviously, that isn’t legal. But imagine how you might feel if you did that. You’d probably feel somewhat naked and exposed, but you’d likely be extra careful driving.

When we feel more exposed to risk, we behave in more conservative ways.

The problem is that this adaptation might not last forever. If you stopped wearing your seatbelt, you might feel spooked for the next few days or weeks. But eventually you might “get used to it” and possibly go back to your old driving ways, spiking your overall risk of getting hurt.

The real question is: how can we instill that “spooked feeling” in drivers – to encourage them to behave as if they were driving riskier cars – without having to eliminate actual safety features?

In other words, wouldn’t it be great if we all drove hyperconsciously? How can we get the best of both worlds?

The answer should be found somewhere in the Venn diagram intersection between behavioral psychology and automotive technology. Hopefully someone with experience in both of these topics will take this idea one day and run with it. Until then, if you have a question about a North Carolina car accident, get in touch with the capable, highly reputable team at DeMayo Law for a free evaluation of your case.


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